NEW YORK — Yankees manager Joe Girardi probably angered some fans Saturday by sitting Derek Jeter. So be it.
Girardi decided to rest Jeter as the Red Sox and Yankees played a day game after a night game at Yankee Stadium. Girardi said before Saturday’s contest he realizes sitting Jeter for home games might be an unpopular decision given that this season marks the shortstop’s final hurrah, but the Yankees skipper still has a job to do.
“There’s not a whole lot I can do about that. When you start running guys out there too much, you risk injury and I’m sure people would be a little bit more upset if (Jeter) was out two weeks or a month or something like that,” Girardi said when asked if there’s any hesitancy to sit Jeter at home this season. “I understand fans want to see him play and I get that — I want to see him play. I’d love to run him out there 162 times, but I’ve got to do what’s best for him and our team, and when you have day games after night games or walk into a hotel room at six o’clock in the morning, you’ve got to be smart about it.”
Jeter, who currently is playing in his 20th and final season, turns 40 in June and is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he played in just 17 games because of injury. Rest perhaps is more necessary for Jeter than any player on the Yankees’ roster, and Girardi said Saturday he can’t get too caught up in all the other hoopla at the expense of the team.
“Well first of all, it’s what, April 13? As I said, I have to manage him with a focus of winning games and keeping him healthy, not at being a farewell tour,” Girardi said. “I wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour.
“When you start to run out of infielders and if you get in the situation, that sounds like to me it’s for a farewell tour,” Girardi added of inserting Jeter late in games. “It’s not the last week of the season, and these games are obviously very important to us and they’re important today, tomorrow and next month. I have to manage that. And I’m sorry if people came to see him (Saturday), but I have to be smart about it.”
Jeter’s farewell tour should be memorable. Just don’t expect Girardi to start making decisions based on the fanfare.