Naturally, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is going to catch some flack this season when he elects to sit shortstop Derek Jeter. With 2014 already announced as Jeter's final season, some fans, particularly on the road, will be making special plans to see hm play one final time at the nearest ballpark. And those fans arrive to find out Jeter isn't in the lineup, they're going to voice their displeasure.
One such game happened during the Yankees opening series in Houston, which was met with discontent locally. On Saturday, Girardi elected to rest Jeter again, this time at Yankee Stadium in a day game after a night game against the Boston Red Sox. It makes perfect sense given Jeter's struggles to stay healthy last season after breaking his ankle during the 2012 postseason. Girardi doesn't really owe anyone an explanation, either, and there are many fans who don't require one, but he elected to give a straight forward one on Saturday.
"I have to manage him with a focus of winning games and keeping him healthy, not being a farewell tour," said Girardi, who has Dean Anna at shortstop against the Red Sox. "I wasn't hired to put on a farewell tour."
Case closed. Period. End of statement.
While it's viewed as a farewell tour from the outside looking in, right on down to Jeter receiving gifts in his final visit to each stadium, Girardi's the manager of a baseball team that has designs on reaching the postseason. His main goal, in essence, is too extend the Yankees season, and therefore Jeter's career, as long as possible. A key to make that possible will be keeping Jeter healthy, and that's going to require the occasional off day.
As the season moves along, it may even require more than one day off a week. Girardi's going to do what's best for the Yankees, regardless of fan sentiment, because that's his job. It's not just about managing bullpens (Mariano Rivera couldn't pitch every day in his farewell season) and calling for bunts. He manages everything.
The manager was also asked if there were a spot to give Jeter an-bat late in the game, would he consider that?
"Then you start to run out of infielders, and that sounds like to me it is for a farewell tour," Girardi said. "It is not the last week of the season. These games are obviously very important to us. They are important today, tomorrow, the next month; I have to manage that. I'm sorry if people came to see him today. I have to be smart about it."
And with that, Girardi should not have to answer another question about Jeter resting all season. His points are valid and inarguable. Just let him do his job, and if you happen to have tickets to an upcoming Yankees game, cross your fingers because Girardi's not backing off his plan any time soon.
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