DETROIT -- Through the first 120 games of the season, Derek Jeter served as the New York Yankees' DH four times.
And over the past eight games, he has been the DH three more times. If the Yankees wind up playing tonight -- they are in a rain delay that will delay the start of the first of three games between them and the Detroit Tigers, and the forecast is not promising -- it will be four times over the past nine games.
Starting to sense a pattern here?
Although Yankees manager Joe Girardi will not say so, it appears as if Jeter will be used increasingly as a DH over the final 32 games of this season, and his career.
The trend began with a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on the punishing turf of Tropicana Field on Aug. 16, and continued the next day, a 4-2 Yankees win in which the Yankees' much-maligned infield made a handful of spectacular, and possibly game-saving, plays behind Hiroki Kuroda.
Asked after the game if he thought the Yankees were a better defensive team without Jeter on the field -- he had the game-winning RBI single in the first game and a hit in the second game -- Girardi was quite revealing when he said, "That’s not a discussion that I really want to have right now. With Carlos [Beltran] being able to play the outfield, I can obviously do some different things. But Jeet’s my shortstop.”
But two games later, he was the DH again, and four games after that, he is the DH again, while Stephen Drew plays shortstop.
Asked before tonight's game if he was likely to use Jeter as a DH even more often as the Yankees head down the stretch fighting for a playoff spot, Girardi was non-committal.
"I don't know," Girardi said. "I'm in the mode that I'm just taking it day by day, but with Carlos being able to go into the outfield once in a while, it gives me more flexibility to do this."
Girardi cited the Yankees having to fly overnight from Kansas City as one reason for Jeter's name being penciled into the lineup, but not the field, tonight, as well as the long stretch of games facing the Yankees -- they have an off-day on Sept. 1, and another on Sept. 8 -- and a proliferation of lefty starters coming up that will necessitate him playing in some capacity nearly every day the rest of the way.
"I try to give him a little blow when I can," Girardi said. "And I thought today was probably a good day."
Jeter has been open, although not belligerently so, about his dislike for DHing. "I'm not sure how people do it," he has said. "I run out of things to do." But when asked about it tonight he seemed almost resigned to doing it.
"My job is to come here and, when I’m in the lineup, play," he said. "I like to play every day. I like to play shortstop every day. Everyone is aware of that, but I get it. I understand it. We’ve had a long stretch here. I think we only have a couple of more days off, and then we have another long stretch at the end of the year. So, I don’t know what his plans are. My job is to play.”
And Girardi's job is to determine where.
Question: Do you think Jeter should play more DH than shortstop the rest of the way?