Joe Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 to 2007, coinciding with the vast majority of shortstop Derek Jeter’s playing career. If anyone knows the guy, it’s Torre. Jeter is coming off of an injury-plagued 2013 season, logging a meager 73 plate appearances in 17 games. Because of his age (39) and questionable ability to stay healthy going forward, many solutions to the Jeter “problem” have been suggested, such as using him as a full-time DH, moving him to third base in the event Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 season, or signing a full-time shortstop and reducing Jeter’s role.
As Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes, Torre thinks Jeter would take a reduced role if he was convinced it would help the team.
But Joe Torre said he thinks if Jeter feels he’s not playing up to his standards, he might consider a reduced part.
Jeter “will play baseball as long as he’s benefitting the team, whatever the role,” Torre said, speaking outside the 11th anniversary gala for the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation in Chelsea.
Jeter led the league in hits as recently as 2012, logging 216 of them in 740 plate appearances over 159 games at the age of 38. Although the skepticism over his health is warranted, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was able to regain his previous form. Jeter is a free agent after the 2014 season, which may signal his retirement.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.