Derek Jeter All-Star decision causes stir

Updated: July 12, 2011, 8:37 PM ET
ESPNNewYork.com

Forget National League vs. American League. It's Derek Jeter's right vs. Jeter's wrong in Phoenix on Tuesday.

After an unnamed major league official and some players told the New York Daily News that Jeter was wrong to skip Tuesday's All-Star festivities, players and even commissioner Bud Selig jumped to his defense.

The New York Yankees' shortstop, who was selected by fans to start for the American League, will not be attending because of "emotional and physical exhaustion" from his pursuit of 3,000 hits, according to a Foxsports.com report.

But an anonymous major league official told the New York Daily News that baseball wanted to celebrate Jeter's accomplishment and isn't happy he's not there.

"Derek Jeter has done everything right during his whole career," the official said, according to the newspaper. "He was wrong on this one."

Baseball would have been fine with Jeter appearing on the field for player introductions, tipping his cap and then heading back to New York, the official told the newspaper.

"This could have been a celebration of his 3,000th hit," the official said. "He didn't have to play."

A source familiar with Jeter's thinking told ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand Monday that Jeter "couldn't win" either way, but he thought it would be best for the second half of the season if he rested during the break. Jeter is coming off a calf injury that landed him on the disabled list.

Selig spoke out later Tuesday.

"Let's put the Derek Jeter question to bed: There isn't a player that I'm more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter," Selig said. "He has played the game like it should be played. He's even been a better human being off the field as great as he is on the field. So any concerns that I keep hearing about Derek Jeter, I know why Derek Jeter isn't here. I respect that. And I must tell you I think I would have made the same decision that Derek Jeter did.

"Derek Jeter has brought to this sport great pride. He's become a role model. Earned it. Still earning it. And so any suggestion that I, or anybody else, is unhappy with him about not being here is just false."

Earlier Tuesday, Yankees president Randy Levine blasted the anonymous official, saying he had spoken with Major League Baseball and it was fine with Jeter's decision.

"This was Derek Jeter's decision," Levine told ESPNNewYork.com. "He was hurt for three weeks. He felt he needed the time off. We respect that. There weren't any major league officials criticizing him over the weekend. If someone was criticizing him they should have the guts to not do it anonymously."

Phillies chairman Bill Giles, the honorary president of the National League, told the Daily News that the league has to look into seemingly healthy players skipping the All-Star Game.

"I think it's too bad that Jeter in particular is not here, because of what he accomplished over the weekend. I think it is a bit of a problem and baseball should study it," he said, according to the newspaper.

Some players believe Jeter should be attending because he was invited.

"I don't think it's my place to speak for others," Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said, according to the Daily News. "But for me, personally, if you get selected to be here, you have an obligation. You gotta be here. If you can go, you gotta go."

Berkman played with Jeter on the Yankees last season.

A source told the newspaper that not even Jeter's old manager, Joe Torre, could talk him into showing up. And New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran says he thinks that's not right.

"I do believe, as a ballplayer, if you have no injuries, you should be here," he said, according to the newspaper. "The fans are the ones that vote for you and want to see you here."

But Jeter's teammate, catcher Russell Martin, believes that Jeter's recent injury does play a role in declining to participate.

"He's just coming off the DL, he played a bunch of games in a row," Martin said, according to the Daily News. "I'm sure the fans wanted to see him here, he just got his 3,000th hit -- and the way he did it was incredible -- but he's got to take care of himself, and make sure that he's healthy. You have to respect that."

Although another injured New York shortstop, the Mets' Jose Reyes, said that "I want to come no matter what happens," an NL shortstop understands why Jeter might need to step away from the game.

"Everybody would want a piece of him here, and sometimes you need a little mental break," the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki said, according to the newspaper. "I'm not going to say anything bad about him because I'm probably his biggest fan."

Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko thought it would have been nice to have Jeter hear the cheers of the crowd for his accomplishment, but believed the criticism is off-base.

"I think it's one thing where everyone should just give him a slide, give him a break," Konerko said. "This guy has been doing it for a long time in All-Star Games, World Baseball Classics, etc. Representing the game in an awesome way, period. Maybe one time everyone should just give him a pass instead of him doing everything for everybody all the time."

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine contributed to this report.

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