09/20/12 12:15 AM ET
Back at short, Jeter promptly nets 200th hit
By Steven Miller / MLB.com
It didn't take long for the Yankees' captain -- overcoming a bone bruise in his left ankle -- to make history. With his first-inning single off Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero, Jeter reached 200 hits in a season for the eighth time in his career, tying the franchise record held by Lou Gehrig.
The single -- the 3,288th hit of Jeter's career -- also extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
"I've always felt as though if I'm healthy and go out and play every day, it's something I'd have a chance to do, because I've pretty much been hitting at the top of the order," Jeter said. "It's a lot of hits. I'm proud of it, but more importantly, we're just trying to win games. I try to be consistent, and if you're consistent throughout the course of a year, you have a chance to do it."
Jeter, who recently passed Willie Mays for 10th place on the all-time hits list, was given the afternoon off by manager Joe Girardi and took part in fielding drills after New York's 4-2 matinee victory, preparing to start the nightcap at short if all went well.
Entering Wednesday's first game, Jeter had played the past four games at designated hitter while Eduardo Nunez filled in at shortstop. Nunez again started at short and batted ninth for Wednesday's matinee, going 0-for-3.
But Jeter was back in the field for the nightcap, although he made a throwing error.
"I was nervous, and I was kind of out of sync out there," Jeter said. "I don't think I've gone six or seven days in the middle of a season without playing, so it was a little weird out there. But physically, I'm fine."
Jeter told Girardi that his ankle felt significantly better upon arriving at the ballpark on Tuesday before inclement weather pushed the series opener back a day, and the manager was hopeful that another 24 hours would make Jeter fit to play the field. But the decision to give Jeter the afternoon off and start the nightcap was more a product of pitching matchups.
Girardi preferred to bat the right-handed-hitting Jeter against Romero in the night game rather than against right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who struck out a career-high seven batters in Game 1 of the twin bill. Jeter entered the nightcap 7-for-33 (.212) in his career against Romero and hitless in eight at-bats against Alvarez.
Jeter went 1-for-4 with a walk, with his hit making him the first Major Leaguer to record 200 this season.
"It's incredible," Girardi said. "You think about a guy who's 38 years old, and you're not sure they're going to get the at-bats to get 200 hits. He still has 14 games left. It just shows you how great of a player he is and how great of a year he's had for us."
The Yankees are delaying activating Brett Gardner from the 60-day disabled list as they ensure he is healthy enough to return from a strained right elbow, but another factor is that Girardi said roster decisions still have to be made. The Yankees will need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to activate Gardner, and they already made a move Wednesday to activate starter Andy Pettitte, moving Dellin Betances to the 60-day disabled list.
Alex Rodriguez hit cleanup as the designated hitter for the Yankees in Game 1 of their doubleheader, and Girardi started the slugger at third base for the nightcap.
David Phelps originally appeared to be the long reliever on tap to follow Pettitte once the 40-year-old reached around 70 pitches in his return from the disabled list, but the doubleheader forced Phelps back into the rotation to start the nightcap. After Pettitte worked five innings in the matinee, Girardi used six relievers to close out the win: Clay Rapada, Derek Lowe, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.
Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.