It was all about that base, no trouble -- or so Didi Gregorius thought -- as he tried to steal third with two on, two out, the Yankees trailing by five runs and cleanup hitter Mark Teixeira at the plate in the eighth inning of Monday's season opener against Toronto.
When Gregorius was thrown out to end the inning, it took the bat out of Teixeira's hands and basically sealed a 6-1 loss.
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Cut to the Yankees' dugout and Joe Girardi's grimace to know it was a terrible mistake in Gregorius' first regular-season game for the Yankees as Derek Jeter's replacement at shortstop.
Gregorius had been hit in the elbow -- he said it hit mostly his padding and he will be fine -- to start the inning. With two outs, Carlos Beltran walked. With Teixeira up, third baseman Josh Donaldson was playing well off the bag, so Gregorius took off -- and was thrown out easily by Russell Martin.
"It was a bad mistake by me, I'll admit it," said Gregorius, who had three steals in his first 191 big-league games, none of third. "I admitted it's my mistake and it will never happen again. They were shifting a little bit, so I just decided to try and take third, but it was a bad mistake."
Girardi was willing to give Gregorius a pass. "You know, I'm just going to chalk it up to someone trying to do too much," he said. "In a game like this, you're looking for a three-run homer there. And your run doesn't mean a whole lot. The guy behind you has to get a hit. It's probably a real good learning experience. And it happened in Game 1 here, and hopefully it never happens again."
Gregorius managed a small smile when told that Jeter was caught stealing seven times in his rookie season (including one occasion when he was thrown out trying to steal third against the White Sox with two outs in the eighth inning in a 2-2 game and cleanup hitter Cecil Fielder at the plate).
Gregorius spent spring training telling everyone he would not, could not be Jeter's replacement, and he said it again.
"No matter what you do, they are always going to compare me to him," he said, "so no matter what I do defensively or offensively, I don't care if they're going to compare me [because] it's not in my hands . . . I don't think nobody can be like Jeter. Everything Jeter did made history. It's way different than me coming here right now, I'm trying to be myself. And I can't be like him."
Jeter -- who after his baserunning gaffe made a point of sitting between Joe Torre and Don Zimmer to take his medicine -- often said players should be accountable no matter how they performed. Gregorius followed suit, patiently answering all questions. "You know if you make a mistake like I did today, I can't run around from you guys," he said. "My locker's right here."