07/11/11 8:20 PM ET
Jeter should be front and center on ASG stage
By Hal Bodley / MLB.com
Of all the great players who'll take the field for Tuesday night's 82nd All-Star Game, he's the one everyone would like to see. Make that expects to see.
But Jeter won't be in Phoenix, leaving the fans at Chase Field and millions more watching on television with an empty feeling.
Where's Derek Jeter?
The All-Star Game is one of baseball's biggest stages, second only to the World Series. Derek Jeter should be on that stage, front and center, taking a bow for his storybook pursuit of 3,000 career hits.
Soon after the Yankees' captain went 5-for-5 on Saturday and celebrated his enormous achievement, Jeter, who first said on Friday that he would skip the All-Star Game, said again that the game was out. Even though he was elected the American League's starting shortstop, he said he wouldn't be coming.
I have deep respect for Jeter, but this was the wrong decision. Baseball and the All-Star Game need him.
He says he's emotionally drained and physically fatigued from the chase, not to mention the strained right calf which kept him on the disabled list for 17 days.
Jeter doesn't need to play.
I don't care how exhausted he is. Couldn't he climb aboard the comfort of a private jet, arrive in Phoenix in the afternoon, show his face before the game and be gone?
Why not have him, in uniform, be part of the first-pitch ceremony? The fans would love that. Don't forget, over 4.5 million fans elected him to be the AL's starting shortstop. He could say a few words and return to his R & R.
I doubt that will happen. Knowing Jeter, since he physically doesn't want to play in the game, he probably doesn't want to be a distraction.
Somebody in Major League Baseball's hierarchy should consider this.
Wouldn't it be a great surprise, a tremendous addition to All-Star week, to have Jeter unexpectedly be announced and take the field before the game, tip his hat and toss one of the ceremonial pitches?
It would take no more than 12 hours of his time.
Other elected players, such as the Phillies' Shane Victorino and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, have come to Phoenix even though they cannot play.
"I think it's too bad that Jeter, in particular, is not here because of what he accomplished over the weekend," said Phillies chairman Bill Giles.
Giles added that when players are elected or chosen for the game and do not come, "it's a bit of a problem and baseball should study it."
Jeter, 37, after returning from the DL, played in the last six Yankees games.
After he became the first player to reach 3,000 hits with the Yankees, he told the media he lied to them during the final days of the chase, saying he was indeed under pressure and stressed.
He said he was skipping the All-Star Game and resting his calf injury.
The decision fueled controversy, because he was able to play in six consecutive games, but he was unable to go to the All-Star Game.
"It's unfortunate because I enjoy going to All-Star Games," Jeter said. "I love playing in All-Star Games, especially getting voted in by the fans. It's something I would like to do. I try to be smart about it. I know I can be stubborn a lot of times when it comes to injuries, but I'm trying to be smart this time."
Teammate Robinson Cano, who is starting at second base, said for Jeter to stay away, "it really has to be something, because nobody would like to be here more than him. It is what it is. ... I wish he were here, but health comes first."
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun said: "Derek Jeter has been the ultimate ambassador for the game of baseball for years and years. He's represented the game the right way on and off the field. Does he need to do this? I think he's done more for the game than anyone."
San Francisco reliever Brian Wilson believes players elected by the fans should show up "unless you need these three days to recover. You are representing your team, so it would be good to be here."
Years ago it was not uncommon for players to fabricate injuries or figure out some reason for not attending. Getting the days off during the grind of the long season was more important than participating in an exhibition game.
I believe that has changed. The game now has meaning, with the winning league getting home-field advantage for the World Series.
Secondly, events surrounding the game have expanded to the point where players enjoy the three-day experience.
"Derek has been the face of baseball since he's been in the game," said Atlanta catcher Brian McCann, last year's All-Star Game MVP. "He's one of the best teammates, one of the best ambassadors. Whatever decision he made is the right one as far as I'm concerned.
"As a fan, I'd love to see him here. But as a player, you know you have to get healthy for the second half. It's a tossup."
A compromise is the answer.
Bring Jeter here for one special moment. Take a bow, throw out the first pitch, rest the strained calf.
In that order.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.