Since the sporting press descended on Phoenix yesterday morning there has been a lot of talk about Derek Jeter’s absence from this year’s All-Star Game. Jeter was elected by fans, you see, so many — including some players and some reporters — think that he should be there regardless of whether he will play, rest his leg or whatever. There is a suggestion by some that Jeter is shirking his responsibilities as the game’s most visible ambassador.
It seems, however, that there is a reason other than having a better way to spend his time that is keeping Jeter back home. From Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox:
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will not attend the All-Star Game due to “emotional and physical exhaustion” from his pursuit of 3,000 hits, according to two people with knowledge of his thinking.
My prediction: this will lead to a lot of people laying even more scorn on his decision to avoid the All-Star Game and a lot people saying “he should get over it.” My position: those people should probably be quiet and leave Jeter alone.
Jeter has done more than his fair share of baseball diplomacy over the years. He has always said and done the right thing even though almost any other mortal human being with an ego would have cracked at least once by now. He has done fan service, media service, team service and sponsor service. He has just gone through a stretch where people were simultaneously questioning his skills because of his play and declaring his greatness because of hit 3,000, often within a minute or two of one another.
Jeter is smooth and composed, but he’s also human. After nearly 20 years in the spotlight, he’s entitled to three frickin’ days off, isn’t he? Why are people getting upset about this? Why is Jeter catching flak here when there are dozens of other players who are sitting out too? “Emotional exhaustion” seems like a plenty good reason for me. At least for this man at this time. Indeed, he has earned the right by now to say he doesn’t want to go because there’s a good movie on tonight that he’s been wanting to see.
He’s Derek Jeter. I think he has sufficient goodwill in the bank to sit this one out without being killed for it.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.