Don't get him wrong. Derek Jeter was pleased to get voted in by the fans for this year's All-Star Game, the 12th time he's made the team. But he also isn't deluding himself; he knows he has work to do.
"This year I’m not happy with my first half,” Jeter said here Monday before he's to make his return from the disabled list.
Jeter enters Monday's game six hits short of 3,000 but having a worse season than he had a year ago, when his offensive numbers were across the board the worst of his career. Jeter comes off the DL hitting .260 with a .324 OBP.
"Anytime you get voted in by the fans you appreciate that they have an appreciation for how you play, that’s the way I’ve always looked at it," Jeter said. "I’ve always considered it an honor. It makes you feel good that people appreciate how you play. You’re going to have years where your first half is going to be better than others. This year I’m not happy with my first half. But you still appreciate what the fans think about you. In that sense it feels good."
In the 18 games Jeter was away, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher combined to hit .275 with a .398 OBP. But Joe Girardi, pressed on the Jeter-hitting-leadoff topic more than at any point this season, said Jeter will remain atop the lineup.
"He's been our leadoff hitter and he's been OK in the leadoff role for us," Girardi said. "And we're going to put him back there...There was a stat I saw where he was on like 17 out of 36 times in the first inning that he hit. That's pretty good. That's what you want. He's my leadoff hitter."
As for the chase for 3,000, Girardi said he will not manage this series to make sure Jeter gets the historic hit at home (though it seems unlikely Jeter will play Wednesday because of the four-game series with Tampa after this one and the fact he had played two straight days in Trenton, meaning without a rest Wednesday he would have played nine consecutive days).
"I want him to get 3,000 as soon as he can," Girardi said. "I'm going to manage him more from a physical standpoint than the 3,000 hits."