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Jose Pirela just beginning Yankees career as Derek Jeter ends his

Yankees designated hitter Jose Pirela, left, celebrates with

Yankees designated hitter Jose Pirela, left, celebrates with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on Sept. 22, 2014. Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

When 17-year-old Venezuelan Jose Pirela signed with the Yankees in 2007, Derek Jeter had already logged 2,356 major league hits and 933 RBIs and won four World Series.

While Pirela, a utility player, toiled in the minor leagues for eight seasons, Jeter added 1,103 hits, 371 RBIs -- and a World Series title -- to that total.

During Monday night's 5-0 Yankees win over the Orioles, the career paths of the rookie and the legend linked up.

Pirela tripled in his first major league at-bat and went on to score his first MLB run to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the third inning -- the run scoring on Jeter's 1,305th RBI.

Pirela singled in the fifth and scored again -- on Jeter's two-run double.

As Jeter heads toward retirement, adding a few final hits to his ledger, Pirela is just beginning. He got off to a good start Monday, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored as the designated hitter, batting ninth.

"That night is such a blessing for me because I've been waiting for the opportunity, and to see my dream coming true is unbelievable for me," Pirela said after the game.

Not one of the Yankees' first September call-ups this year, Pirela finally was summoned after Martin Prado's season ended after an emergency appendectomy.

Jeter, who recorded his first MLB hit on May 30, 1995, is nearing the finish line of a very public "farewell" season. After the game, he seemed to enjoy watching another player saying "Hello".

"It's exciting to watch," Jeter said. "You see how excited he was to get his first hit and then get his second hit. It never gets old."

Said Joe Girardi: "He gave us a little spark there with that triple."

Pirela, 24, was a midseason and full season International League All-Star selection with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He batted .305 with a .351 on-base percentage, 21 doubles, 11 triples and 10 home runs. He has played every position except pitcher and catcher, but has been used most frequently at second base and in leftfield the past two years.

Despite his multi-position experience, some evaluators have questioned his defense, and it's not clear if he's a good enough fielder to permanently stick at any one spot. But even if he's only an average defensive player, his versatility could allow his bat to get in the lineup often enough for it to make an impact.

Pirela took a while to develop. He was promoted to Double-A Trenton in 2011 as a 21-year-old but struggled, batting .239 with a .645 on-base plus slugging percentage. In 2012, something clicked.

From 2007-11, Pirela had a .359 slugging percentage and struck out in 14.9 percent of his plate appearances. Since 2012, he has a .432 slugging percentage and has trimmed his strikeout rate to 12.3 percent. He made both improvements without diminishing his eight-percent walk rate.

After eight years of adjustments, Pirela finally made it to New York.

"I never expected that call for me," Pirela said. "When the season's over they told me, 'You're not going to New York.' I felt a little bit sad. But, I'm here. Thank you God for giving me the opportunity.

"I want to say thank you to the Yankees, too."

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