HOUSTON - Derek Jeter's farewell tour of 2014 is expected to be a feel-good story throughout baseball. The popular Yankees shortstop received a warm welcome by fans of both the Yankees and Astros at Minute Maid Park before Tuesday night's game, which attracted a sellout crowd of 42,117.
But once the season opener with the Astros started, it wasn't quite so rosy for Jeter, who on the second pitch he saw this season from Scott Feldman, was hit on the left forearm.
"It hurt," Jeter said. And though he was sore, he made it known that he was OK. It was a rude start to the season for Jeter, who was limited to only 17 games in 2013.
"I was a little more nervous this year because I hadn't played in a while," said Jeter, who was 1-for-3 with a run in the Yankees' 6-2 loss to the Astros. "And then when I got hit, it hurt, so I wasn't nervous. It might have helped me out a bit."
For a moment when Jeter was hit, it looked like, here we go again for Yankees fans, who perhaps for a brief moment feared that their captain could be out for some time with an injury. But Jeter was fine. His hit was a two-strike single to rightfield in the eighth inning off reliever Chad Qualls. Jeter was on deck when the game ended.
The Yankees certainly don't want a repeat of 2013, when Jeter missed valuable time with setbacks from the 2012 ALCS loss to Detroit when he fractured his left ankle. The Yankees want 2014 to be a special season for the team and Jeter.
"It's definitely his last Opening Day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "So we will watch carefully to see how he's handling it and to remind him that he needs to really enjoy this.
"Because it's hard to take your uniform off. The one thing about Derek is he really enjoys playing the game. But I want him to soak in some of the other things, too."
After being plunked, Jeter got a little medical attention and made his way to first base. He was called out on strikes in the fourth inning on a pitch he thought was low. In the sixth inning, Jeter grounded out to first.
Defensively, Jeter still attacked the baseball from his shortstop position and followed through on his throws.
Jeter said he had butterflies before the game.
"I do every Opening Day," Jeter said. "I think that's a good thing. It means you care. If I didn't have the butterflies, I would have hung it up a long time ago."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team won't use Jeter's final season as a rallying cry for the Yankees, who failed to make the postseason in 2013.
"Jeter would be offended if somebody said we got to rally around Jeets, because we're rallying around the effort of trying to win a championship on a yearly basis," Cashman said. "He represents that more than anybody. So no one can try any harder than they've played in years past. No one can care or want it any more this year than in years past."