NEW YORK -- Eric LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who is now paralyzed and in a wheelchair, watched batting practice as a guest of the Yankees on Monday before their series opener against the Orioles.
LeGrand, who was hurt in a game against Army last October, grew up a Yankees fan in Avenel, N.J. He played baseball as a pitcher and a center fielder through his freshman year of high school before concentrating on football.
"I love the way Bernie Williams used to play," LeGrand said when asked about his favorite player. "I wasn't a switch-hitter like he was, but he just played center field, that was my thing. Just seeing him out there was what inspired me to get out there."
During batting practice, several Yankees came over to say hello to LeGrand, who controls his wheelchair with with his mouth.
LeGrand said he had a five-pitch repertoire but that football was always his first love. As he tries to walk again -- he is now able to stand up for limited periods of timing -- he is exploring the possibility of becoming a sports commentator. He said his plan all along was to play in the NFL and then become an analyst. Rutgers helped him with the second part of that by inviting him to serve as an analyst on its radio network.
"It was pretty cool," LeGrand said. "I thought I'd be more nervous. But there's no cameras, and you just sit there in a booth and talk football."
Girardi: Jeter 'different player' since 3,000th hit
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter has built a reputation on tuning out distractions and pressures on baseball's biggest stage. But when Joe Girardi was asked to what he attributed Jeter's recent surge, the Yankees' manager said passing the 3,000-hit milestone was more important to Jeter than Girardi originally thought.
When Jeter, a career .313 hitter, returned from his calf injury on July 4, his batting average stood at .256. His on-base percentage (.320) and slugging percentage (.320) were also pedestrian. Five days later, he went 5-for-5 en route to picking up hit No. 3,000. Thanks in part to a 2-for-5 performance -- including a three-run homer -- on Sunday, Jeter's batting line since his return entering play Monday stood at .346/.396/.471, and he went 1-for-5 with a double and a run scored in the Yanks' 11-10 win over Baltimore.
"I've said all along, I don't think I realized the pressure he was under to get those 3,000 hits," Girardi said before Monday's game against the Orioles. "Everything in his career, he's always handled with such grace and been able to relax in the big moment. But since he's gotten past [3,000], he's been a different player."
Jeter said Sunday he is staying back more at the plate and dismissed any talk that he plays better following off-days (Girardi rested Jeter on Saturday). No matter the reason, his 2011 stat line of .297/.354/.389 following play Monday is the best it has been all year.
Yanks to have Sept. 11 ceremony Wednesday
NEW YORK -- With the Yankees set to be on the road the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the team announced Monday that it would hold a pregame ceremony on Wednesday.
The pregame ceremonies will begin at 12:40 p.m. ET and honor Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, who was presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor on July 11. Longtime Yankees employee Hank Grazioso will throw out the game's ceremonial first pitch. Both of Grazioso's sons died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed National Military Center and Fort Belvoir in Virginia will also be on the field during the pregame ceremony. Former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld will escort them.
Regina Wilson, an official vocalist of the Fire Department of New York, will sing the national anthem, and Frank Pizarro, also an official vocalist, will perform "God Bless America."
In a statement, the Yankees asked that fans attending the 1:05 game be in their seats by 12:30.
Rotation plan gives hurlers more time to rest
NEW YORK -- After his manager announced the Yankees would stick with a six-man rotation for at least one more turn, CC Sabathia said he, like any pitcher, would prefer to work on the normal four days' rest. But he also said he didn't think the Yankees would ask him. If the Yankees did ask for Sabathia's input, they didn't factor it in to their immediate plans.
With a 1 1/2-game lead in the American League East and a 9 1/2-game lead over the Rays for the AL' s Wild Card, the Yankees have less pressure to pitch Sabathia every fifth day. Manager Joe Girardi announced Monday that the Yankees would stay in order and start Sabathia with an extra day off on Saturday.
That means Ivan Nova will pitch Thursday's makeup game in Baltimore and that Bartolo Colon will follow Friday at the Angels. Girardi announced Sunday that Phil Hughes (who will pitch Tuesday) and A.J. Burnett (Wednesday) would stay in the rotation and finish the Orioles series that started Monday in the Bronx.
Sabathia has made 30 starts this year. Of those, he has worked on normal rest 18 times. Ten more times he pitched on five days' rest. Thanks to early rainouts and scheduled off-days, he pitched after six days once, on April 17. His Opening Day start on March 31 came 10 days after his final Spring Training tuneup.
Following the start in Anaheim, Sabathia will likely be working with an extra day of rest the next time he takes the mound. The Yankees' lone remaining scheduled off-day arrives five days after the game against the Angels.
David Roberston, who picked up a two-inning save Saturday, wasn't available Monday but will be Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi said the team gave him two days off and would do the same for Rafael Soriano, who pitched one inning Sunday.
Manager Joe Girardi said after Monday's game that Hector Noesi would return to the club Tuesday and that the right-hander might not be the only one arriving in the Bronx on Tuesday.
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.