MOOSIC – Derek Jeter’s second rehabilitation stint with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is already much better than the first time around.
From July 6-10, the veteran shortstop was just 1 for 9 in his time with the RailRiders while recovering from an ankle injury. On his current assignment, he already has two hits and two runs scored, including an 0 for 3 performance on Friday night with a run scored at PNC Field.
But the 39-year-old isn’t going to New York anytime soon. Jeter will remain with the RailRiders for tonight’s homestand finale against Pawtucket at 7:05 at PNC Field and will play shortstop. He’s expected to return to the Yankees Monday when they take on the Blue Jays in Toronto.
“I knew it was going to be a three-game assignment. I’m not surprised by too many things,” said Jeter, who also played seven innings in the field before being replaced by Alberto Gonzalez while now rehabbing a strained calf injury as he spends a third stint on the disabled list this season. “It’d make no sense to fly there (to Tampa) for a day game on Sunday. So I’ll be in Toronto.”
Partaking in the most frustrating season of his 18-year career, Jeter played his sixth game this season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, surpassing the number of games in which he’s played for New York all season. He’s also spent time on the disabled list with ankle and quad injuries and has missed 123 Yankees games. He’s never played in less than 119 Major League games in his career since getting called up for good in 1996. He won’t even reach 50 this year because New York only has 34 games remaining in 2013.
Facing a knuckleballer for the second straight night – a rare feat for any team – in Pawtucket’s Charlie Haeger, Jeter struck out looking on a knuckler that appeared to be inside in the first inning. Jeter briefly moved towards first base thinking it was ball four, but the late call from home plate umpire Andy Dudones was a strike.
The second time up, Jeter swung at the first pitch from Haeger and hit it on the ground up the middle, but Pawtucket shortstop Heiker Meneses fielded it and turned a 6-3 double play. He finally got his walk in the fifth inning, taking four out of the five pitches he saw from Haeger.
He finally got to see a pitcher other than a knuckleballer in his fourth plate appearance on Friday while batting against righty Brock Huntzinger. He hit a chopper up the middle again that possibly would’ve been another twin-killing, but an error allowed Jeter to reach and advance to second base. Pawtucket will pitch right-hander Clayton Morrison today; he does not throw a knuckleball.
“I’ll get a chance to see some normal pitches, which is good,” Jeter added. “But I feel good. I feel like I’m ready to go.”
After moving to third on a grounder, Jeter’s heads-up baserunning accounted for a run on a wild pitch that barely got out of the batting circle and he slid into home. He said there were no complications from the run or the slide.
“I’m running fine. I’m not concerned about running, not at all,” he said. “Everything felt good.”
In the field, Jeter looked better than he did the previous night fielding a grounder up the middle to get an out at first base - after making an error on a similar play Thursday. He made a total of three plays in the field, including charging a grounder for an out and catching a sinking line drive.