Derek Jeter still not happy about days off
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MILWAUKEE - Derek Jeter was clear on the issue, as he's been his entire career. "I don't like them,'' he said of days off. "That's the bottom line.''
But Jeter had one Saturday night. He was replaced in the lineup by Brendan Ryan, no doubt disappointing fans who showed up hoping to get one final look at the retiring shortstop.
And Ryan's two-out error in the third inning opened the door for a pair of homers that gave the Brewers a 4-2 lead.
Joe Girardi didn't reprise his "I wasn't hired to put on a farewell tour'' line from April 12 -- when he was questioned about resting Jeter on a Saturday at home -- but when it comes to the 39-year-old shortstop, he characterized the situation he's in as the "no-win'' variety.
"I have to do what's best for the team and what's best for the player,'' Girardi said. "And I understand people want to see him. I want to see him. It's a difficult situation because I'm sure people bought tickets tonight, and for that, I'm sorry if they came just to see Derek. It's a tough situation because I have to manage what's best for everyone.''
Jeter, limited to 17 games last year because of injuries, has been healthy this season, and it's been reflected in his playing time. Jeter appeared in 28 of the club's first 34 games and was hitting .252 with a .352 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage entering Saturday night.
Jeter said he understands the need for occasional rest, but that doesn't mean that when he's approached about it, the decision goes unchallenged. "He knows I don't like them,'' Jeter said, "but it's his choice.''
He added, "I like to play every day because that's what the game is, it's an everyday game, so I don't like days off. At any time. But that's nothing new. It's been like that since '96.''
Because this is the final trip of his career to Milwaukee, Jeter will be honored before Sunday's game by the Brewers. Dick Groch, who signed Jeter out of high school as a scout with the Yankees and currently serves as a special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, will be a part of the presentation. Groch, who spent time talking with Jeter on the field during batting practice Friday, will present him a $10,000 check for his Turn 2 Foundation and a gold bat.
Shawn Kelley wasn't available a second straight day with lower back tightness but said Sunday is a possibility. "Each day's gotten better,'' said Kelley, who first felt the tightness in Anaheim.
He planned to play catch before Saturday night's game and was emphatic that a DL stint will not be necessary. "No, no,'' he said. "I don't think so at all.''
Though he had just pitched himself, Masahiro Tanaka was aware that the Rangers' Yu Darvish had come within one out of a no-hitter Friday night. And though the pitchers' numbers are comparable -- Darvish is 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 54 strikeouts and 13 walks and Tanaka is 5-0, 2.57 with 58 strikeouts and seven walks -- Tanaka spoke almost reverentially of his countryman. He said through his interpreter, "I'll never be able to pitch the way he pitches.''