07/02/11 9:53 PM ET
Jeter gets through rehab start with flying colors
By Aaron Taube / MLB.com
Jeter went 1-for-2 with a walk, and played five innings in the field in front of the second-largest crowd in the history of the Trenton Thunder.
"It feels good," Jeter said. "I was nervous coming in, I hadn't played in three weeks, so there were some nerves. I didn't sleep much last night, but it feels good to get going, because you can't duplicate anything you do in a game."
Jeter, who has been out since June 14 with a strained right calf, singled on a ground ball through the left side of the infield to lead off the game, moved to third on a double to right field, then scored on a sacrifice fly to deep center. He said after the game there wasn't any hesitancy when he ran.
He had five assists, with his first starting a 6-4-3 double play. In the fourth inning, all three Altoona batters grounded out to shortstop. The second out was particularly impressive, with Jeter ranging to his left to field a ball in the hole, and making a spinning throw that retired Josh Rodriguez on one hop.
"I did a lot of things, first to third, tagging up, ball to the left, ball to the right," Jeter said. "I moved around quite a bit, so I'm happy with how everything went.
"The ball up the middle, where you have to spin and throw off-balance, I think that was a test. Even the ball to the right was slower, and I threw off of one leg, so I'm happy with how everything went."
In his second at-bat, Jeter was robbed of an extra-base hit by Altoona first baseman Matt Curry, who made a diving catch on a line drive toward the first-base bag.
Jeter walked on seven pitches in his final at-bat, and was replaced by a pinch-runner immediately after.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said after the game that it's possible Jeter could play all nine innings for Trenton in tomorrow's game, but it depends on how much action Jeter gets as the game goes on.
Cashman reiterated his earlier statement that Jeter would be in the lineup for the Yankees for their Monday night game at Cleveland, but said he did not know whether Jeter would play in all three games against the Indians.
"Today, he looked great," Cashman said. "He looked better at the plate than you expected, and I thought that play defensively was a pretty tough play to make. This day couldn't have gone any better."
Though Jeter appreciated the attention of the fans, many of whom crammed into the front row to ask for autographs during batting practice, he said he was eager to get back to helping the Yankees win games.
In the 17 games since his injury, Jeter's replacement at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, is batting .339 with a .369 on-base percentage, and the Yankees are 14-3. In Nunez's past two games against the Mets, he has gone 7-for-8 with two doubles and a home run.
When Jeter was asked if he knew about Wally Pipp, the former Yankee first baseman who famously sat out a game and lost his starting spot to Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, Jeter replied, "I do. That's why I'll be back Monday."
"He's played well," Jeter said of Nunez. "I texted him to tell him just to keep working. Anytime you're a young player and you're coming up, when you have some success it gives you confidence."
Jeter is six hits shy of becoming the 28th Major Leaguer to collect 3,000 hits. Though there has been much ado about the rapidly approaching milestone, he remains focused solely on recovering from his strained calf and returning to the big leagues.
"It's not hard [to not think about 3,000] right now because I'm trying to get back," Jeter said. "I haven't played, so as much as I'd like the hit today to count, it doesn't. So right now, I just want to get back to the team."
Aaron Taube is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.