7/7/2013 2:08 P.M. ET
Newtown residents honored at Yankee Stadium
By Josh Vitale / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- On Dec. 14, 2012, tragedy struck Newtown, Conn. The small Connecticut town lost 26 citizens -- 20 of them children -- to a horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and its residents have been grieving ever since.
But Newtown's first Selectman Pat Llodra said the community she loves needed to find ways to come together and celebrate, find enjoyment again.
So the Yankees decided to help. Sunday was Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium, and Llodra and more than 4,000 Newtown residents were in attendance for New York's game against Baltimore.
"We're really happy to be celebrating together," Llodra said. "Newtown and Sandy Hook, this section of Connecticut is very much Yankee land, so we're very excited about being here. The organization has been incredibly generous and kind to us."
The Yankees displayed the names of all the victims on the video board during a moment of silence prior to the game, and the Newtown Youth Voices choir sang the national anthem to a standing ovation from the crowd. The Sandy Hook Fire Department and Newtown Police Department also provided a Joint Color Guard.
"The families and the people in that town went through so much," manager Joe Girardi said. "There are still a lot of struggles that this town is going through, and we do whatever we can to give them hope and be there for them. This is something that has scarred their lives forever, and we can't forget that."
The events of that day will never be forgotten, and Llodra said her community is beginning to learn how to make that tragedy part of its identity as a town.
For the Yankees, Sunday was simply about trying to uplift a community that's suffered too much heartbreak.
"I can't imagine what they've been through the past several months. I have two little boys that mean everything in the world for me," center fielder Brett Gardner said. "It's nice that we can bring them out here and hopefully lift them up for a day, put a smile on their face. Let them have a little bit of fun."
Yanks playing it safe with rehabbing Jeter
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter would have likely penciled himself into the Yankees' starting lineup on Sunday if manager Joe Girardi had let him. But the Yankees are going to have to see more from their star shortstop before they decide to let him make his season debut.
Girardi watched Jeter's at-bats in a rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night -- he went 0-for-2 at the plate with a walk -- and said they looked pretty good.
One game won't be enough to assess the shortstop's readiness to return to the Bronx, though.
"You have to see how he's moving around, how he's responding physically to playing every day," Girardi said. "You have to build him up. He has to be able to play more than five innings once every three days. We'll go through this week, I'm sure, then we'll make an evaluation."
Girardi said the most important thing was to make sure not to bring Jeter back before he's ready. Jeter already suffered a setback when doctors found he had refractured his left ankle in April, and Girardi wants him to avoid another stint on the disabled list.
Jeter has 20 days to complete his rehab assignment, but he could come back before the final day, which would be July 26. Girardi said having the All-Star break coming up July 14-17 is nice, because the Yankees won't be able to bring Jeter back during those days, meaning he will get extra time to rehab the injury.
Girardi wouldn't say whether that meant Jeter would be back before or after the break, though.
"I don't ever put a time limit on it, because I don't think it's fair to the player, and I don't think it's fair to us," Girardi said. "They're ready when they're ready, and when we feel that they're ready. I'm not saying anything about when he's going to be here or when he's not going to be here. I'm just saying I'm not putting a date on it."
Girardi focusing on A-Rod's rehab, not results
NEW YORK -- When the Yankees begin hitting in Spring Training, Joe Girardi doesn't worry much about their stats. The manager is more concerned with how their at-bats look, not what their results are.
That's how he's treating Alex Rodriguez's Minor League rehab assignment. The third baseman is just 1-for-6 in three games in Class A, but Girardi isn't focusing on what the numbers say.
"You try to watch his at-bats, and how hard he's hitting the ball. The contact is probably the most important thing, not whether he went 2-for-3 or 3-for-4," Girardi said. "I'd like to give him seven or eight days before you start to do that and see if you see an improvement, kind of like Spring Training."
Girardi and Rodriguez have spoken almost daily since the third baseman began his rehab assignment on Tuesday, and the conversations are mostly about how he's feeling and how his body and injured hip are responding, not necessarily about how he's playing.
The final day of Rodriguez's rehab assignment is July 22, but Girardi wouldn't say whether or not he would be back before then.
"I wouldn't assume that [he'll take the full 20 days], but that's what we're allowing him to do," Girardi said. "That's why I don't put a time on it. If he needs 20 days, he needs 20 days."
• The Yankees claimed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles on Sunday. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Ishikawa on the 40-man roster.
Ishikawa is batting .316 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in the Minor Leagues so far this season. He was 2-for-17 in six games for the Orioles.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.