2,994 and Holding for Derek Jeter

Jeter exits with injury as Yankee offense sputters to loss

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Gritted teeth tell much of the story.

    The good news is that there's still a chance Derek Jeter will notch his 3,000th hit during a game at Yankee Stadium.

    The bad news is that we have no idea when that shot at the milestone might actually come. Jeter left Monday night's game with the Indians in obvious pain after flying out in the fifth inning and an MRI revealed a calf strain that muddies the picture for the immediate future.

    It's all but certain Jeter won't play Tuesday night against the Rangers and you'd be safe wagering a chunk of your salary on him missing the rest of the current homestand. Whether he plays when the team goes on the road for six interleague games is less clear, even with Jeter's career-long desire to play through pain.

    The team learned how tricky calf strains can be last season when Alex Rodriguez came back from one after missing three games and promptly wound up with a more serious injury. That led to a stint on the disabled list and a longer absence than they would have gotten with a conservative approach from the outset.

    All calves are different, of course, but it really doesn't make sense to push things at this point in the season. The Yankees can survive his absence -- though it must be said that every Eduardo Nunez appearance at short makes Jeter look like the captain of old -- much more than they could survive playing with a short bench during a trip playing under National League rules.

    We'll find out more Tuesday, although there would be something darkly funny about Jeter hitting the disabled list this close to his 3,000th hit. One of Jeter's greatest strengths as a player has been the way he consistently shows up to get his job done, so going down with an injury just before a milestone that recognizes that strength is worth a resigned chuckle.

    Jeter's 2,994th hit led off the game and the Yankees loaded the bases in the first inning without pushing a run past Carlos Carrasco. They'd get two more baserunners on in the second and third, but didn't score either time and never got another runner as far as second base.

    That made A.J. Burnett the hard luck loser of a 1-0 game that felt like it was played with heavier hearts than normally accompany a calf strain. Such is Jeter's import to the franchise, although it certainly overshadowed an encouraging performance from Burnett after his awful start against the Red Sox last week. 

    A nice result for Burnett, but it doesn't change the headline. Jeter will have to be content as the newest member of the 2,994-hit club for a while, an honorific that probably feels as empty as it sounds.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.