Adam Wainwright says he grooved pitch for Derek Jeter then says he was joking

MLB columnist
Yahoo Sports

MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game went about as well as possible, even if it included a little help from the opposing pitcher.

Jeter went 2 for 2, including a first-inning double on a 90-mph fastball National League starter Adam Wainwright told a group of reporters he threw over the plate intentionally.

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"I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it," Wainwright said. "I didn't know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind."

Wainwright later told Fox's Erin Andrews he was joking when he made his initial comments, hoping to quash criticism he received on social media for giving Jeter a pitch to hit in a game that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

"Sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way," Wainwright said in a dugout interview in the eighth inning. "I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter's done today or off me. It was mis-said. I made a mistake.

"I hope people realize I'm not intentionally giving up hits out there. I know this game means something."

Derek Jeter waves to the crowd during the first inning of the All-Star Game. (AP)
Derek Jeter waves to the crowd during the first inning of the All-Star Game. (AP)

Both of Jeter's hits were vintage for the New York Yankees shortstop, opposite-field loopers that dunk in front of the right fielder, as so many of his 3,408 hits have. He scored in the first inning on a triple by Mike Trout and was left on base in the third inning after he singled.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, with Jeter at shortstop, backup Alexei Ramirez left the dugout, jogged to the position and signaled to Jeter his night was over. After 14 All-Star Games, his evening would end perfect at the plate, and almost the same in the field, with a diving first-inning stop that nearly resulted in a brilliant out dirtying his uniform.

The ovation for his first at-bat lasted more than a minute, with Jeter twice doffing his helmet to a crowd that thundered with applause.

"I'd still be standing there if the crowd had kept cheering," Wainwright said, adding: "I wanted to make sure I respected that time. I didn't want to get near that mound."

Plenty of the 41,048 at Target Field chanted Jeter's name in classic fashion – De-rek Je-ter – following the double. They later dwarfed that cheer with a cacophony of yells and claps when he made his way to the dugout for the final time.

It mattered not that Jeter's Yankees tormented the Twins for years. Perhaps the final national stage for the Hall of Famer deserved the sort of noise befitting a Hall of Famer. And he showed his appreciation, too, leaping to the top of the steps and walking out for one final curtain call.

As he did, Frank Sinatra's voice from "New York, New York" strained through the loudspeakers, and nothing – not even a grooved fastball – could deny the words that met him as he hit the field: "King of the hill."

For Tuesday night and many, many more.

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