Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went 5-for-5 on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in an afternoon that won’t soon be forgotten by fans of baseball. He reached then quickly surpassed the 3,000-hit milestone, doing it in storybook fashion as the Yankees captured a 5-4 victory over the Rays.
Let’s swing it around the web for reaction to Jeter’s feat from those who know him best:
- Current teammate Alex Rodriguez, via the New York Post: “Days like today remind you of the icon that this guy is. I’ve said it all along, 3,000 hits in a Yankee uniform for me, is like getting straight A’s at Harvard. He’s been a great student.”
- Former teammate Bernie Williams, in a statement to MLB.com: “Congratulations, Jeet, on No. 3,000. … Just exhale, enjoy it, and know what an honor it was to be your teammate for so many years. Tonight, my last song is dedicated to you my friend.”
- Part owner of the Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner, via USA Today: “Today we celebrate a remarkable individual achievement by one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. On behalf of the entire New York Yankees family, we congratulate Derek on his historic accomplishment.”
- Yankees legend Yogi Berra, from ESPN New York: “I want to give him a big hug. It’s an absolute wonderful accomplishment.”
- Former manager Joe Torre, via the New York Post: “We’ve been around him and watched him so long that nothing he does should surprise anybody. He’s always been a guy who was able to rise to the occasion. And . . . you know this is not an easy city to play in.”
- Rap mogul and friend Jay-Z, from Forbes.com: “That’s Derek Jeter for you. He’s just a winner. … He’s a great Yankee, definitely the top tier.”
- Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, from SI.com: “I’ve seen him since the Fall League when I think he was 19 years old. He’s still the same kid. A little different haircut, but always plays the game right. He always treats people right and he tries to beat your brains out. That’s a good way to go about things.”
Finally, I’d implore you to read Joe Posnanski’s take on Saturday afternoon’s events over at Sports Illustrated. As with most things Posnanski writes, it’s a masterpiece. “On Saturday, he played young again.”
The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.
There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.
While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.
“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”
The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.
Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.
Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.