© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

08/20/09 2:46 AM ET

Jeter, Yanks on roll heading to Fenway

New York (76-45) at Boston (68-51), 7:10 p.m. ET

OAKLAND -- Derek Jeter's wry sense of humor is often obscured by his business-first agenda of winning baseball games for the Yankees. The fun layer is on display more behind closed doors than for the general public.

He offered a glimpse earlier this week, when Jeter was given a half-day off as the club's designated hitter. Jeter cracked to manager Joe Girardi that if all he needed to do was DH, he could probably add another five years to his already-impressive Major League career.

The remark was not serious, and besides, Jeter seems to be doing just fine where he is. When the Yankees hit Fenway Park on Friday to renew acquaintances with the Red Sox in the game's top rivalry, Jeter will likely be at shortstop and -- as usual -- looking only one game and one series ahead.

"I'm worried about this year, man," Jeter said. "I'm not thinking about anything beyond. It's unfair to be thinking about what I'm going to be doing years from now. I'm thinking about helping us win this year."

Jeter has certainly done plenty of that, traveling to Boston riding one of his hottest offensive stretches in recent memory. Jeter completed the Yankees' West Coast trip hitting .550 (22-for-40) over his past 10 games, including five games with at least three hits, and he has boosted his season batting average to .331.

"You can just put him on first base," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "It seems like everything he's hitting is hard, and he's setting the table a lot for us. When guys are on base, he's driving them in. I haven't seen many guys go through rolls like this."

For his part, Jeter has no interest in discussing his, perhaps for fear of scaring off whatever is working. Almost immediately, Jeter rapped his knuckles against a wooden locker as soon as the topic of his good fortune came up.

Sox have lead, but Yanks have momentum
The Red Sox grabbed the first eight games from the Yankees in their season series, but the Bronx Bombers have won the last four in a row.
April 24BOS 5, NYY 4Ramirez (2-0)Marte (0-1)
April 25BOS 16, NYY 11Okajima (1-0)Albaladejo (1-1)
April 26BOS 4, NYY 1Masterson (2-0)Pettitte (2-1)
May 4BOS 6, NYY 4Lester (2-2)Hughes (1-1)
May 5BOS 7, NYY 3Beckett (3-2)Chamberlain (1-1)
June 9BOS 7, NYY 0Beckett (7-2)Burnett (4-3)
June 10BOS 6, NYY 5Wakefield (8-3)Wang (0-4)
June 11BOS 4, NYY 3Saito (1-0)Sabathia (5-4)
Aug. 6NYY 13, BOS 6Chamberlain (8-2)Smoltz (2-5)
Aug. 7NYY 2, BOS 0Coke (3-3)Tazawa (0-1)
Aug. 8NYY 5, BOS 0Sabathia (12-7)Buchholz (1-2)
Aug. 9NYY 5, BOS 2Coke (4-3)Bard (0-1)
Home team listed in bold.

"It's baseball, man," Jeter said. "Sometimes you hit balls and get hits. Other times they catch them and say you're struggling. If they don't catch them, they say you're hot. Sometimes you can hit a ball terrible and still get hits."

But you can't feel this good if you're not healthy. Part of the genesis for Jeter's renaissance season was a recommitment to lateral agility and lower body strength, which have seen him post some of his best defensive statistics in years.

That conditioning has also helped him remain strong after a Spring Training shuffle that left Jeter as the leadoff hitter and bumping Johnny Damon to the two-hole, playing a factor in why Jeter has already stolen 20 bases after swiping just 11 all last year.

"It's amazing what he's able to do, year in and year out," Girardi said. "The thing is that he comes ready to play every night, and that's why he is who he is and he has the success that he does."

"It's all a matter if you feel good, then you might do some things differently," Jeter said. "It has nothing to do with [the lineup switch.] If I was hitting second, I'd be running the same. I'm not going to run just for the sake of running."

Jeter's contract runs through 2010, and his situation will create a discussion in New York when that time approaches. Almost certainly, the Yankees could not fathom the idea that their captain logs his 3,000th hit in another uniform, but it is unclear how much longer Jeter will play shortstop at a competitive level.

Remaining games
Probable pitchers
Aug. 21at Boston7:10 p.m.Penny (7-7) vs. Pettitte (9-6)
Aug. 22at Boston4:10 p.m.Tazawa (1-2) vs. Burnett (10-6)
Aug. 23at Boston8:05 p.m.Beckett (14-4) vs. Sabathia (14-7)
Sept. 25at New York7:05 p.m.TBA
Sept. 26at New York 1:05 p.m.TBA
Sept. 27at New York 1:05 p.m.TBA
All times ET.

"I haven't sat down and had that conversation with myself yet," Jeter said. "That's the way I've always handled it. I'm not going to change."

So while Jeter may need a long solitary drive to breach that topic, others already are considering and discussing a different issue.

Come the end of the season, Girardi believes that while home run hitters always garner most of the spotlight when it comes to discussing MVP candidates (and Joe Mauer and Teixeira should each be included), his shortstop's consistency should also not be overlooked.

"What he's hitting, his defense, his leadership -- all the things that it takes to be an MVP, I think he's done," Girardi said. "I think it's harder for a guy like that to win. It seems like the guy that wins the MVP always has 30-plus homers. That's kind of the way it's been. But I think he's a definite candidate."

In typical Jeter fashion, he seemed taken aback even by the thought.

"My name is in it? I have not heard that," Jeter said. "I'm not thinking about that. We're trying to win. We haven't won here in a long time, and right now, our team is playing pretty good. We just want to continue it."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.09 ERA)
Pettitte turned in a gritty performance last Friday at Seattle despite not having his good control, harnessing a sharp cutter to record a season-high 10 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Mariners. Pettitte was down, 2-0, after facing four batters, but he rebounded to limit Seattle to six hits over six innings, walking just one. He threw more than 110 pitches for the fifth time this season and has made 13 quality starts in 2009. Pettitte last started against the Red Sox on Aug. 9 in New York and fired seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball, but he took a no-decision in New York's 5-2 win.

BOS: RHP Brad Penny (7-7, 5.22 ERA)
Penny allowed four earned runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Rangers on Saturday. He needed 51 pitches to get through the first two innings, then 70 more to record the next 11 outs. Penny is 5-2 with a 4.70 ERA over 67 innings and 12 starts at home this season. In two career starts against the Yankees, he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA over 11 innings.

The Yankees are 0-6 at Fenway Park in 2009 after suffering a three-game sweep from April 25-27 and again from June 9-11. Their current seven-game slide is their longest losing streak at Fenway Park since losing the first seven games there in 1990. ... Alfredo Aceves' eight victories as a reliever are the Yankees' most since Luis Vizcaino won eight in 2007. ... Nick Swisher has reached base safely in each of his past 28 games. ... The Yankees have been in first place (sole possession or shared) for 44 days this season, including each of the past 31.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Yankees (A.J. Burnett, 10-6, 3.69) at Red Sox (Junichi Tazawa, 1-2, 5.40), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (CC Sabathia, 14-7, 3.58) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 14-4, 3.38), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.