7/4/2014 12:40 A.M. ET
Wheeler has blast with homer in MLB debut
By Alex M. Smith / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley pulled Zelous Wheeler out of the on-deck circle on Wednesday.
"Come here," Miley said. "Somebody else is going to hit for you."
Once the confused Wheeler was off the field, the manager broke some unexpected news: The Yankees needed him to catch a flight to Minneapolis.
Wheeler skipped the second game of Scranton's doubleheader and gave his mother, Laverne, and the rest of his family a call he's been waiting to make since being selected by the Brewers in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
"She screamed," Wheeler said. "They're excited. They were jumping up and down."
On Thursday night, Wheeler made his Major League debut. Starting at third base and batting eighth in the lineup, he belted a home run off Twins starter Phil Hughes in the fifth inning, a 413-foot smash into the Yankees' bullpen for his first career hit.
"I got a pitch over [the plate], elevated up and put good wood on it," said Wheeler, who went 2-for-4 and added a seventh-inning single in the Yanks' 7-4 win. "I was like 'Wow, I really hit a home run!'"
Wheeler's blast followed Carlos Beltran's three-run shot in a four-run fifth that erased New York's 2-0 deficit.
"It's a special night for him," manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, he's a part of the win. A big part. He gets a tack-on run to make it 4-2, and then he's a part of that rally."
Wheeler replaced Yangervis Solarte, who was optioned to Triple-A following Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
"He's been struggling in the month of June," Girardi said. "We thought we'd send him down to get him going.
"We made it known to him: Hey, you were a big part of our success in the first two months, then you struggled, so go get back on track."
Until then, Wheeler could be the answer on the 25-man roster.
In a span of hours, Wheeler went from taking in the pregame sights at Target Field to contributing to a big win in his first career start.
"It felt great," he said. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. Hopefully, I can take advantage of it."
Jeter holds many fond memories of Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is clearly not ready yet to say goodbye.
During his dugout press conference before Thursday's game at Target Field, a reporter uttered two words that Jeter took offense to.
"I don't like calling it a Farewell Tour," he said. "It's my last year, but we're still trying to win games. I have a job to do. So, I'm not just walking around shaking hands and taking pictures."
The Yankees are in town for the final regular-season series against the Twins in Jeter's storied career. He reminisced about loud playoff games at the now-demolished Metrodome, and showed a particular fondness for Minnesota's style of play.
"They had some great teams that we battled against the postseason," Jeter said. "I have the utmost respect for [Twins manager] Ron Gardenhire, playing against him and his teams."
While this weekend is New York's last regular-season visit to the "Mini Apple" in 2014, Jeter is expected to return to Target Field in 12 days for the 85th All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 15.
At last tally, Jeter led all American League shortstops with 2,924,686 votes, but he did not want to make any assumptions until Sunday, when the teams are announced.
"No All-Star teams have been selected, so I can't comment on that," the Yankees captain said.
The 14-time All-Star and future Hall-of-Famer eased up to at least discuss the possibility of playing in the game.
"All-Star Games are great," Jeter said. "I've always said that. It's not something I take for granted. I've been fortunate to play in quite a few of 'em. They're all unique. They're all special."
While Jeter couldn't think of anything in particular he'd remember about Minnesota off the field -- "I'm sort of a homebody right now," he said. -- the shortstop recalled his time against the Twins fondly.
For the most part, though, Jeter was more interested in talking about the future than the past.
"I have a competition problem," he said. "I like to compete. I like to win."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until tonight at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Sabathia's swollen right knee prompts MRI
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees received some bad news on Thursday.
After a workout the day before, lefty ace CC Sabathia woke up on Thursday morning with swelling in his right knee, and he underwent an MRI.
"I can't tell you how long he's gonna be shut down," manager Joe Girardi said. "We're going to talk to Dr. [Chris] Ahmad and Dr. [James] Andrews over the next couple hours, and we're going to figure out what's next."
New York was hoping that Sabathia -- who made his last Major League start on May 10 and had a 3 2/3-inning rehab start for Double-A Trenton on Wednesday -- would be able to help the Yanks make a playoff push.
"We were hopeful that the swelling would stay away and he would be in our rotation very soon," Girardi said.
With no timetable for Sabathia's return, would the Yankees think about trading for another starting pitcher?
"I don't think our organization's thinking ever changes," Girardi said. "I think they're always looking to better our team, no matter what. When someone's injured, you can never count 100 percent that they're coming back."
Alex M. Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.