Monday, June 27, 2011

Jeter's Return Halted By Rain Delay

New York Yankees Derek Jeter spent his 37th birthday taking 39 swings off a tee and then 35 more attempts at some soft-toss pitching before a rain storm cut short the shortstop's plan to take some ground balls on grass Sunday.

Jeter, who was notably missing at yesterday's Yankees Old Timer's Day, is planning to start a running and light-jogging program either today or tomorrow.

While Jeter rehabs his strained calf at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, the Captain's absence at yesterday's festivities was duly noticed--especially because two of the Old Timer's game first-time participants included Jeter's mentor, former-manager Joe Torre, and his teammate for twelve years, Bernie Williams.

Williams was asked what he thought about Jeter's quest for 3,000 hits and his place in Yankees history.

"He has to be right up there," said the normally quiet Williams.  "He's in the unique position of being the only Yankee that going to have 3,000 hits.  That really puts him in a category by himself as far as hits are concerned.  He's earned it.  He's been the face of the franchise.  He is one of the most popular Yankees that ever put on the uniform."

According to the Associated Press, Jeter said he "hopefully" will start the running program, but won't comment on a target date for his return.  He is currently six hits shy of the 3,000 hit milestone.

"You've got to run.  Once you start running, then we'll have a better sense," said Jeter, who has been lingering on the 15-day DL since June 14.  "If it was up to me, I'd be playing now, but you have to be smart."

Right now, Jeter's scheduled return is in doubt.

It must have been quite a dilemma for Jeter to pass on yesterday's ceremony in the Bronx.  It's hard to imagine that he would ever consider missing Torre's long-awaited, and overdue, return to pinstripes after his former-manager's contentious release from the Yankees.
Torre was like a father-figure to Jeter.  He helped mold the young shortstop's career and personality both on and off the field.

Torre understands Jeter's decision to take one for the team.  He fostered that trait in him.

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