Jeter shrugs off injury, says he'll play in Game 4
Captain fouled ball off foot in third inning, departed after eighth
NEW YORK -- If Derek Jeter has his way, there's no chance he'll be left out of the Yankees' starting lineup for Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night.
Even so, the status of New York's captain is somewhat up in the air after he fouled a ball off his left foot during the first inning of Game 3 on Wednesday night.
Jeter initially remained in the game but was clearly hampered by the injury and eventually left after the eighth inning. Despite the departure, Jeter reiterated multiple times that he'll be starting in Game 4.
"I'll be all right," Jeter said after the Yankees' 3-2 victory. "It's not going to be a big deal."
Jeter has battled a left ankle injury for the past month but insists the latest incident affected a different part of his foot. That is welcome news to the Yankees but still doesn't change the fact that Jeter appeared to be in severe discomfort for almost all of Wednesday night's game.
Even though he remained in the game, Jeter's level of play was clearly affected. He limped around the field and favored his left foot whenever possible. It also prohibited him from breaking up a double play in the sixth inning as his slide into second came up well short on a grounder by Ichiro Suzuki.
"It's just part of the game, it happens," Jeter said. "I wish it didn't happen but it did. It's over with, nobody wants to hear about it. Come back and play tomorrow."
Jeter suffered the injury after fouling a ball off his left foot during a first-inning at-bat against Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Yankees manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue started to run onto the field but were immediately waved off by Jeter.
The 18-year veteran proceeded to record an RBI triple over the head of Adam Jones in center field, which tied the game at 1. Still, he was in obvious pain and was approached several times by Girardi about being removed from the game.
Jeter talked his way out of it each time, but after striking out to end the eighth inning, he finally relented and was replaced in the field by Jayson Nix.
"That's not easy, either, but you could see that he was limping pretty good," Girardi said of his decision. "Derek is one of the toughest players I've ever been around, and you know what he told me: 'I'm great.' That's what he always tells me.
"He never wants to come out. He could have two legs that were broken and wouldn't want to come out of the game. I mean, that's the bottom line."
Left foot woes are nothing new for Jeter, who has been dealing with similar issues for the past month. He originally incurred the injury during a game against the Rays in early September and was diagnosed with a bone bruise but at the time said he was unsure how it was sustained.
The 38-year-old then aggravated the injury while attempting to beat out a ground ball during a game against the Red Sox on Sept. 12. He didn't miss a game but was forced to start at designated hitter for four consecutive days as a way to give the foot a bit of a break.
Girardi raised the possibility of taking a similar approach this time around, even though Jeter insisted after the game he'll be healthy enough to play the field.
"It's a completely different spot," Jeter said. "There's really no relation there."
The Yankees can ill afford to miss Jeter for any period of time. He has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise struggling offense. Jeter is batting 6-for-13 (.462) with a pair of RBIs out of the leadoff spot.
That's the type of production New York has come to expect from its proven playoff performer. Jeter's triple in the third inning extended his hitting streak to six games. He also has now hit safely in 14 of his past 15 ALDS games dating back to 2007.
He also has 56 multi-hit games in the postseason and is just three hits shy of 200 for his career in the playoffs. That's well ahead of former teammate Bernie Williams, who ranks second at 128.
Lots of questions will remained unanswered until the lineup is revealed on Thursday afternoon.
"I'll just have to make a decision tomorrow on what I try to do with him," Girardi said. "You know, is he a DH maybe for me tomorrow? Does his foot feel good enough to play shortstop, does his foot feel good enough to play at all? I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow."
Jeter's response to that was short and to the point: "I'll play." Considering his track record, it's hard to doubt that.