Now the question is can the New York Yankees survive and win their ALCS series with the Detroit Tigers with the loss of their captain Derek Jeter? It is an answer the Yankees will have to answer on the field with game two in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The Yankees say they will move on, the same way they did when all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera went down for the season with a freak torn knee injury earlier this season. It has been a season of adversity, injuries to a pitching staff and position player at one time or another.
But this is Jeter, the captain, and he is hard to replace. Jayson Nix will replace Jeter at shortstop and Eduardo Nunez was added to the roster. The manager, Joe Girardi knows this is the most difficult dilemma to deal with as the Yankees try to even the series Sunday before heading to Detroit for what is hoped to be three more games.
“Just like Mo said, ‘we have to move on,’” commented Yankees manager Joe Girardi when asked about the impact on losing Jeter, the reference to what Rivera said to the team when he went down with his injury back on May 3rd shagging fly balls in the outfield at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City.
But it is hard to move on without a player like Jeter, especially this time of year as the Yankees try to move another step to their 28th world championship.
“Is it a big loss? Yes,” said Yankees General Manger Brian Cashman. “Is it something that’s going to stop us from dreaming about achieving our goal, no,” he said.
And perhaps the loss of Jeter won’t stop their goal. But Nix is not Jeter on the field, neither is Nunez. Girardi was asked about possibly utilizing the slumping Alex Rodriguez at short. “No I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “It’s just been too long.”
To hear Cashman say that Jeter will “No longer be a player for us this year,” is hard to comprehend but a broken ankle, that will take three months to recover, is that huge loss for the Yankees and perhaps for the game of baseball. They said Jeter will be well enough to be ready for spring training in February.
In the second inning, Jeter got his 200th career post season hit with a single. Later, in that 12th inning, when things fell apart for the Yankees, he made that play ranging toward second base, one that he has done so well over the years.
This time, he had to be helped off the field. And many of the 47,122 who remained on a long Saturday night, into a Sunday morning of baseball were silent. The captain was down and told Girardi, “No, don’t carry me.”
They chanted “Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter.” He heard them. And his teammates consoled him as he was helped to be immediately examined. That left ankle, that has been hindered one way or another this season could no longer take the punishment of wear and tear, though this fracture reportedly was in a different area.
Now without their captain, the Yankees will have to do this, themselves. Not that Jeter has been banging the ball all over the field, but he always seems to ignite a rally, get on base, and make the big play. Five championship rings in the same uniform are enough to state the value of Derek Jeter, especially in October.
Jeter did not have a reaction when he was examined and told by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad that he could no longer play. He was in the same room with Cashman, Joe Torre, his former manager who he played for on four world championship teams, Reggie Jackson, and former teammate Tino Martinez.
Twice with two-run home runs in the ninth inning, including one from Raul Ibanez, maybe the new “Mr. October” off Joe Valverde, it appeared this was going to be another one of those great October nights in the Bronx when the Yankees tied the important first game in a best of seven series.
However, the loss of Jeter now makes it that more difficult for the New York Yankees. They say the loss of their captain will be overcome. They will play for Jeter and are inspired to win that championship for their leader.
“It’s a tough moment for all of us because of what he means to our team,” said Ibanez.
And an obstacle that Cashman and the Yankees will know how to deal with in this season of adversity that continues at the most important time of October baseball.
“The job is to overcome every obstacle that comes our way,” said Cashman. “We have one team standing in our way to get to the World Series.” And one player short of that goal, the most important part of their quest to get there again.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]