|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
CLEVELAND -- When Joe Girardi went to bed on Tuesday night, New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter was out of his next-day lineup.
When Girardi woke up Wednesday morning, Jeter was back in.
"I slept on it," Girardi said. "And sometimes I change my mind the next day, just thinking about it. I just started thinking you know, he swung the bat good last night, physically he felt well, he's healthy, he's rested, why not get him back in there?"
"I just told him I was fine to play," Jeter said. "That was about it. You'd have to ask him why he changed his mind."
Whether Jeter talked Girardi out of his initial inclination Tuesday night, or the manager's alarm clock snapped him to his senses this morning, the upshot is that Wednesday night, the quest for 3K resumes at Progressive Field with Jeter, who had two hits in Tuesday night's 9-2 Yankees win over the Indians, just four hits shy of the 3,000-hit milestone.
According to Girardi, he and Jeter communicated twice after the game, once face-to-face in the clubhouse and later via text message after the team had returned to its hotel. And while the manager says he went to bed without having made up his mind one way or the other, when he awoke his course of action was suddenly clear.
"In thinking about this overnight and this morning, what I realized is none of us know what it's like to be close to 3,000 hits, we don't know what's going through his mind," Girardi said. "Just from talking to him I got a sense that he's thinking about it and he wants to get this done with. I started thinking about it. You know what? If I was in pursuit of 3,000 hits, which I was never close to, I don't know if I'd want a day off to think about it. I'd want to get right back out there."
Girardi said he finalized his decision after consulting with team trainer Gene Monahan, who assured him Jeter's strained right calf was fully healed. In fact, now Girardi says Jeter is likely to play in all five of the Yankees' remaining games before the All-Star break in an effort to put the milestone behind him.
So Jeter will be right back out there Wednesday night, facing a pitcher (Justin Masterson) he has performed well against (5-for-12, a .417 career batting average), and playing behind another pitcher, Phil Hughes, who is making his first start in nearly three months after going on the disabled list April 15 with right shoulder inflammation that inexplicably robbed him of his velocity.
And in the process, Jeter's chances of achieving the milestone at home increase, since after Wednesday's game the team returns to Yankee Stadium for four games with the Tampa Bay Rays before Jeter leaves for Phoenix, where he will be the AL's starting shortstop in next Tuesday's All-Star Game.
"I would love to do it at home," Jeter said. "But now we're on the road. What if I get four hits today, you know what I'm saying? It's all speculation really. I take it at-bat to at-bat, try to get a hit every day and that doesn't change."
Girardi acknowledged the importance of Jeter's accomplishment happening in Yankee Stadium but stopped short of saying he would pull Jeter from Wednesday night's game if he got three hits early and needed just one more.
"It would be a wonderful moment for him, and for our fans, for it to happen at home," Girardi said. "But the bottom line is we want to win games and that's how I'm going to manage. I would love for him to be 3-for-3 and we have a big lead. I don't know what I would do but I hope I would get in that situation. That would be nice."
For Jeter, however, just to be playing every day is satisfaction enough. "Even if I had 500 hits," he said. "I'd still want to be playing."Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.