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Yankee fans chant for absent Jeter

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The familiar chant came, though its subject would not appear on the field to answer it, and was not even in the building.

It did not matter for the New York Yankees fans so accustomed to seeing a familiar sight at shortstop for the past 16 years, so they offered the same salute they did when Yankees' captain Derek Jeter was carried off the field against his strong will Saturday night.

"DER-EK JET-ER!" the fans chanted when they finished their traditional roll call to begin Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday. "DER-EK JET-ER!"

The man known as Captain Intangibles now had no chance to offer his very tangible production this postseason, having his season end due to a fractured left ankle in Game 1. He was undergoing more tests Sunday, manager Joe Girardi said, while his teammates would take on their biggest test in a season full of them.

Early in the game, a Yankees spokesman announced that a CT scan and MRI confirmed the fracture and Jeter would be in a splint and on crutches. He would not arrive at Yankee Stadium later Sunday and would not travel to Detroit. His presence was reduced to some stock scoreboard videos, while Jayson Nix started in his place at shortstop. Instead, Jeter was scheduled to see a foot and ankle specialist in North Carolina in the next few days.

For the first time since 1995, Jeter, the all-time postseason hits leader with 200, was not on the field for a Yankees' playoff game. For the first time since 1981, neither he nor injured closer Mariano Rivera was on a Yankees' postseason roster.

"It is not a player you want to lose," Girardi said of Jeter. "There is no secret to that. He means a lot to this club. And we understand that. There are other guys that we have lost during the course of the season that meant a lot to our club, and we found a way. And that's what we need to do."

Jeter's impact on the game left more than just the Yankees feeling his absence. Former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now representing the commissioner's office, saw his former player go down Saturday night after diving for Jhonny Peralta's single and raced to the Yankees' training room.

He just "wanted to be there," Torre said. His old shortstop once coolly teased Torre that his contract had expired in the middle of a 2001 World Series game that ended with Jeter's game-winning homer that earned him his "Mr. November" nickname. But Saturday night, as Jeter absorbed the news on a training table that his ankle was broken and season done, he "didn't really say much at all," Torre said.

It's moments like that game-winning homer back in November that left even the Yankees' opposing manager acknowledging how odd it would feel not to see No. 2 playing against his Detroit Tigers.

"Thinking about it after I left here, when you think about the postseason baseball, I guess the Atlanta Braves, 14 straight postseasons, Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, and Derek Jeter," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I mean, if I said, 'postseason baseball,' what do you think about? Those are probably three of the things I would talk about."

Now the Yankees were left talking about a one-game deficit and an aging roster. And the oddity that the only remaining member of the Yankees' famed Core Four was Andy Pettitte, "the guy you didn't expect to be here," as Torre said of the lefty who came out of retirement this year.

Girardi said he doesn't like to discuss team meetings, but acknowledged "it can possibly happen," a strong hint that he would indeed address the team before Sunday's game. He said he would leave it up to Jeter whether he eventually wanted to do the same, as Rivera had after his season-ending injury in April.

At the least, Jeter texted his replacement for Sunday, Nix said before the game.

The 30-year-old journeyman was Girardi's pick over Eduardo Nunez, because he's better defensively and the manager liked the way he swung the bat in the last round, when he filled in for Jeter and had two hits.

"Superb guy. Superb guy off the field. Superb player," Nix said of Jeter. "And it's hard to put into words what I've learned, but I've taken a whole lot from him."

For the first time in 16 years, there was nothing the Yankees could take from Jeter on the field for the rest of the playoffs. Other than the desire to honor the famous intangibles of a player who had nothing tangible left to offer this year.
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