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Sunday, August 14, 2011
Joe: Time away from 3K chase helped DJ


Derek Jeter was hitting a harmless .260 in mid June when he went on the disabled list with a calf strain.

Since returning on July 4, he's batting .313 (42-for-134) with eight doubles and 21 RBI.

That's a glaring discrepancy.

But if you ask Jeter, who's famously demure when discussing himself, there's nothing to it.

"Sometimes things can't be explained," he said on Sunday.

Manager Joe Girardi, however, has a theory.

Girardi believes Jeter's three-week stint on the disabled list not only healed his calf, but helped heal his mind, which was burdened by the "weight" of the 3,000-hit milestone.

"I just feel that with all the things Derek has accomplished in his career and all the times he's come through in such big situation and been such a big-game player, I don't know if any of us realize the weight that he felt with this [chase for] 3,000 [hits]," Girardi said on Sunday. "And I think since we have seen him get by that … I actually think that maybe the little three-week hiatus that he had maybe helped him a little bit. Maybe to put it in perspective and to think about it, just to give his mind a little time off from the thought of [3,000 hits). [From] Day One of spring training, people always talked about it, and it just seemed like he's swung the bat better since he got beyond that."

Jeter quickly dismissed his manager's assessment, insisting that he's simply staying back on pitches and swinging at strikes.

"That's it," he said.

The shortstop also disagreed with Girardi's assertion that his time on the disabled list helped "give his mind a little time off" from the grind of the countdown to 3,000 hits

"No, that was a situation for a week," Jeter said. "I wasn't thinking about 3,000 hits at the start of the season. That would be a good excuse, but it’s just an excuse."