Unlike a young Danny O’Shea from Little Giants, the face of the Yankees, Mr. Derek Jeter himself, hated being on the injured list. Fans are ecstatic to see their captain back at full force for the 2014 season. He’ll stand as the last remaining member of the “Core Four” and the team will feel a returning sense of comfort from their well-seasoned veteran, 39-year-old, All-Star shortstop, with that billion dollar smile.
Let’s refresh ourselves on poor Jetes’ season last year, where he only played in a measly 17 total games. What began with a heart-and-ankle-breaking moment in the ’12 ALCS v. the Tigers, snowballed into a devastating ’13 season. He gave it a try at Spring Training but soreness and swelling only allowed him to play a few games. He started the season on the DL and the Yanks were without their rock. Cue the downward spiral of Yankee injuries, where each starter was one-by-one “dropping like flies.”
Jeter had fractured his ankle in October, refractured it sometime around April, and dedicated his time fully to rehab. He played his first rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on July 6, going 0-for-2. Jeter made his 2013 debut on July 11, as the DH and batting in the “2 hole,” this after playing in only 4 minor league games. He then was forced to leave the game early with tightness in his right quads. Only 24 hours later, he’s diagnosed with a quad strain that would keep him out of action through the All-Star break. He bounced back and came off the DL in late July, and hit a home run in his first at-bat. All was right with the world, he was back. Or so we thought…
8 days later, he’s placed back on the DL, NOW with a strained right calf. Then it was the same bad story all over again. Rehab games in the farm system, returned with high hopes by late August. He played, well, un-Jeter-like for a week and exited another game early (v. Boston) due to issues with his ankle that he had surgery on.
It was like a bad reoccuring dream. He’s back, excitement floods NY…nope there he goes again to the DL…HE’S BAAAAAAAACK for real this time…just kidding he just left the game now aaaaaand he’s out for the remainder of the season. I called it the “Jeter ‘blue ball’ nightmare.” Then the Yankees failed to make the playoffs, the arch nemesis wins it all again, you know the drill.
Hey every player’s entitled to a bad year, or in this case, a struggle to stay healthy but for DJ, like Cal Ripken Jr., he desperately wants to be out there everyday helping his team win. Jeter will celebrate his 40th birthday this year. Surely, he probably will not field groundballs deep to his right side as well (as he used to) or be as fast on the base paths as the young sprouts BUT he’s one of those “defy all odds”, iconic players, like teammate Mariano Rivera. He is still DEREK JETER. Who else could make such crazy plays like the diving into the stands catch?
That seesaw, emotional rollercoaster game on July 1, 2004 vs. the Red Sawks, Jim Kaat, Michael Kay and Bobby Murcer all agreed was one of the best games they each had ever seen. He may not steal as many bases or get out of the box as fast now but, mark my words, he’ll find a way to put up the numbers and make sporadic plays that make him seem that (like Mo) he’s drank from the “Baseball Fountain of Youth” or something.
The Yanks paid their dues in ’13 so the Baseball Gods must plague other teams with all the injuries this year right?!? Haven’t the Bombers suffered enough? I think Yankee fans will agree that with some optimism and the comfort of our safety blanket (Derek) back, we are ready for another 90+ wins season. For goodness sakes Joe, let the young guys play the majority of Grapefruit League games will ya? Don’t risk our older vets’ health by over-exerting them, for games that don’t even count, they don’t need the extra practice, they’ve been around the baseball block…C’MONNNN MAAAAN!