ANAHEIM, Calif. - Has Joe Girardi considered dropping the slumping Derek Jeter in the batting order?
Asked the question before Monday night's 4-1 loss to the Angels, Girardi said no. Then he added a qualifier.
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"I haven't,'' he said. "Yet.''
It clearly was not meant as a threat or a motivate-through-the-media ploy. He isn't big on those games with his players. But it was an acknowledgment of the obvious: Jeter has looked every bit his 39 years of late.
He had gone 3-for-28 in his last six games, which dropped his batting average from .294 to .240 and his on-base percentage from .385 to .311. Jeter, who started at shortstop and went 2-for-4 with a double while batting second Monday night, brought an 0-for-13 slump into the game. He also had only three extra-base hits, all doubles, in 96 at-bats.
"Getting beat on average to below-average fastballs,'' one opposing team scout said, adding that Jeter looked as if he had "no chance'' against good ones.
Still, as Girardi said, "it's what hitters go through,'' and Jeter certainly has been around long enough to know slumps are a part of the game.
"I feel pretty good,'' he said before the game. "As long as I feel good, the results are going to be there. There's some media yesterday saying I was getting old now. So I guess I was young for the first 20- something games and I was old the last five. So I'm going to try and get young again.
"This is not the first time I've struggled over four or five games, and I will do it again at some point this year. That's just how it goes. For me, it's a feel thing. I want to feel good . . . When I feel good, I trust the results are going to be there.''
People around the organization like to say you bet against Jeter at your own peril. As an example, he struggled for much of 2011 (though he got his final average to .297) before hitting .316 with an AL-best 216 hits in 2012.
With Jeter, Girardi has more on his plate than if he should consider dropping him in the order. His range, in decline for years, is noticeably diminished. With Brendan Ryan, a terrific fielder, set to come off the disabled list Tuesday, expect the "will you consider replacing Jeter late in games with Ryan?'' questions to come. In fact, there were two Monday night. "I haven't really tossed that around yet because he hasn't been here,'' Girardi said of Ryan. "But I'll look at everything.''
Girardi said the conversations aren't ones he's dreading. "Derek is pretty easy to talk to,'' he said. "I've shared ideas with him before about things that I possibly might do and it's never a problem. Derek's about winning. Derek's probably going to tell you, 'If you think that's the best thing to do, then do it.' ''