TRENTON, N.J.—Here is another new one in the life and career of Derek Jeter, who has had his share of eventful days. He was preparing to play a Double A ballgame hours after he was named the starting shortstop in the Major League All-Star Game.
As far as the Yankees are concerned, Jeter is free to play in the Midsummer Classic, even though he is coming off a calf injury, a stint on the disabled list and a quick weekend of injury rehab with the Trenton Thunder. After a successful first test in Trenton Saturday night, Jeter said, “I really have not been thinking about the All-Star Game.”
But he gets to think about it now that he was officially named a starter for the American League in Arizona a week from tomorrow. Brian Cashman, who was here Saturday and was very pleased with Jeter’s condition, was asked what he would tell Jeter about the All-Star Game and he didn’t take a second to reply, “Play.”
“It’s an honor. If he gets the honor, he should play,” the general manager said. But isn’t Cashman worried that Jeter could aggravate the injury? “If I was, I wouldn’t have activated him,” he said.
Jeter is expected to be activated in time to start and bat leadoff for the Yankees tonight in Cleveland—joining the club for its second-half pennant push and resuming his own inexorable run to 3,000 career hits. An All-Star appearance is another natural step for a player who has been in 11 All-Star games and has been the Most Valuable Player in the contest.
But should Jeter really be an All-Star this time?
“Why wouldn’t he be? That’s my answer to that,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin. “How can you have an All-Star Game and not have Derek Jeter? I grew up in the era of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks and those guys. How could you have an All-Star Game if you don’t have those guys? I feel the same about Derek.”
Franklin said “I don’t think words can describe how appreciative I am” about Jeter’s two days with the Thunder, days that will stay with all of his players, no matter who close they might get to the majors themselves.
Of course, he should be in the showcase next Tuesday, no matter what his statistics with the Yankees say at the moment. “He’s a star and he always has been,” said Jose Pirela, the Thunder’s regular shortstop, who moved to second base last night so that he could have the opportunity to play with Jeter.
Before the game Sunday night, it was not clear just how long that opportunity would last. The original plan was to have Jeter play all nine innings to help him ramp up for a return to the majors. But it was raining an hour before game time and the tarp still was on the field a half-hour before the scheduled first pitch. So there was the possibility that he might not play the whole game on a wet field.
“Let’s face it. We don’t want him getting hurt out there,” Franklin said. “He’s coming back and we want to see him make it back.”