Jeter admits disputed HBP hit his bat
Ejected during argument, Maddon admires Yankee's moxie
ST. PETERSBURG -- Derek Jeter sold it like a professional, darting away from an inside pitch during the seventh inning on Wednesday, then shaking his arm in apparent pain while walking to first base.
Only later, after home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale had believed Jeter's self-described "acting" job and ejected Rays manager Joe Maddon in the process, did the Yankees' captain come clean about the performance he'd put on for the crowd at Tropicana Field.
"It hit the bat," Jeter said. "He told me to go to first. I'm not going to tell him, 'I'm not going to go to first,' you know? My job is to get on base."
The exhibition proved beneficial for the Yankees, because it meant that Jeter was aboard a batter later when Curtis Granderson cracked a two-run homer just over the right-field wall, giving New York a 3-2 lead at the time.
"It's part of the game," Jeter said. "I've been hit before and they said I wasn't hit. My job is to get on base, and fortunately for us it paid off at the time. I'm sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game."
Replays showed the ball hit the knob of Jeter's bat. Granderson's homer came only after Maddon was done with his lengthy argument, during which he even instructed pitcher Chad Qualls to field the ball from the infield grass and get it over to first base for a potential putout.
While Maddon was fuming on the field, he later admitted he admired Jeter's trickery, continuing to shake his hand from the vibration of the ball hitting his bat.
"There's several thespians throughout baseball," Maddon said. "I thought Derek did a great job, and I applaud it, because I wish our guys would do the same thing."
Jeter has a little experience hamming it up -- after all, he was in cinemas nightly across the country this summer, appearing in a cameo alongside Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg for "The Other Guys."
Still, as Maddon watched the ball shoot off Jeter's bat, he knew it had not reacted like a typical hit-by-pitch.
"I thought it was going to be a line drive to right field, and it ended up going to the first baseman somehow," Maddon said. "It was really obvious that the ball hit the bat. There's times that it can be disputed that it hit the hand and the bat at the same time.
"But nobody's eyes are good enough to know that. Nobody's eyes are good enough to know that. I really can never agree with that call. ... I really thought the play would be reversed based on pure logic."
Jeter had a little bit of help in convincing the umpires, who conferred behind second base but ultimately decided to keep the ruling as originally called.
After dancing around the batter's box and walking down to first base, Jeter quietly told manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Gene Monahan that he was fine and the ball had hit the bat.
Girardi said that he was relieved, fearing the worst of a bruised or broken hand at the time. He did not discourage Jeter from selling the hit-by-pitch, saying he would have done the same thing as a player.
"Sometimes you get hit and you don't get first, and sometimes you don't get hit and you do get first," Girardi said. "It's all part of it. It's your job to get on base any way you can."
But while Girardi's fears were wiped away, Monahan in particular kept up the charade, checking Jeter's left hand with the customary round of strength tests during the walk to first base.
"Geno acted more than I did, I guess," Jeter said, smirking.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.