COMMENTARY | As the New York Yankees continue to lean on their pitching as the team remains in the race for a spot in the postseason, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are working their way back from injuries, and their return can't come soon enough for the Yankees' depleted offense.
The Newark Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough tweeted on Wednesday that Jeter took batting practice earlier in the day at the Yankees' Tampa facility for the first time since a new crack was revealed in his left ankle in April.
When he returns, Jeter, who turns 39 next week, will be a major upgrade for the Yankees. In his absence, the team has done little to replace his offense.
So far this season, Jeter has been replaced at shortstop by a list of journeymen that will soon end up the answer to a trivia question - Alberto Gonzalez (3 games), Reid Brignac (16 games), Jayson Nix (37 games) - and Eduardo Nunez (26 games). Combined, they've batted .205 (.272 OBP) from the shortstop position and hit a single home run, slightly better than Andy Pettitte's numbers with the Houston Astros in 2006. Last season, Jeter batted .316 (.382 OBP) and led the American League in hits (216).
According to McCullough, Jeter had no issues during his workout and has been doing light fielding drills for the past week. According to reports, the Yankees' captain is set to join the club shortly after the All-Star break next month. When Jeter returns, the Yankees should release Brignac, who is hitting .098 since the team picked him up from the Colorado Rockies.
Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez is also readying his return. As talk that he may be suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs hangs in the air, A-Rod has been taking batting practice and is preparing to face live pitching. A return to the Yankees could come as early as next month.
"Alex is doing a lot more stuff," general manager Brian Cashman said during a conference call earlier this week. "He's going to be in a situation where he'll get some simulated at-bats of live pitching. It's not a simulated game, but he's going to get some simulated bats off of live pitching. It won't be [batting practice]."
With Kevin Youkilis, who was supposed to serve as A-Rod's replacement this season, on the disabled list for what could be the remainder of the season, the Yankees could use a hitter like Rodriguez, who hit .272 (.353 OBP) with 18 home runs in 122 games. Sure, he's not the A-Rod of old, but he'd definitely be an upgrade.
With Youkilis out, the Yankees appear relegated to having to use Brignac, Nix, and David Adams at the hot corner. Adams, who was hitting .300 after his first 10 games, has come back to Earth. In his last 12 games, he's batting .083 (3-for-36), bringing his season average down to .200.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
- Sports & Recreation
- Alex Rodriguez
- Derek Jeter