Yankees team captain Derek Jeter is off to a red hot start, the third best of his career, with a three run homer and a double in last night’s win over the Angels. This season he already has 15 hits, including a team-high six extra-base hits through nine games.
In 1997, he had 18 hits after nine games; in 1999, he had 17.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi has started the season wanting to give Jeter more time off but how do you sit a player that is hitting .366? To complicate matters further the rest of the Yankees have been struggling.
Girardi said in an interview,
“You weigh it in your head. Do I want to make sure he doesn’t get tired, or let him stay hot until he gets tired, and then it starts to go downhill a little bit. It’s something I have to weigh. I’ll continue to talk to him as we go through these 13 days.”
Monday was the fourth game in a sequence of 13 straight without a day off. A younger Jeter could have handled that with ease. But Jeter is now 37, and Girardi has planned, since before spring training, to give him regular days off and days at designated hitter to preserve his body for the duration of the season.
Girardi said he would be in constant contact with Jeter to ask how his body and mind are holding up but said in the end he will trust his gut if it is time for Jeter to sit.
Girardi also added,
“I think you have to have a belief in what you’re doing and understand there is a bigger picture. because at times in this game, you can get caught up in the small picture. You have to understand you’re not managing for two weeks. You’re not managing for a month. You’re managing for six months.”
It will be interesting to see if Jeter can maintain this level of intensity. There are some sportscasters saying that Jeter may be able to go for a record 4,000 hits in his career. With only 893 to go, you just never know.