Crowd bemoans off day for Jeter

Thursday was one of those days when manager Joe Girardi is not the most popular guy at Yankee Stadium. An afternoon crowd on a postcard day watched the Yankees take the field without Derek Jeter.

In the Captain’s last major-league season, many fans come to the Stadium hoping to see Jeter in person one more time before his retirement. It might be the only home game they attend all year.

Jeter, who at 3,429 hits is one behind Hall of Famer Honus Wagner for sixth place on the career list, has been incredibly versatile in his final season with 101 games played of the Yankees’ 113 entering Thursday, but he cannot play every day. At 40, he needs an occasional day off, and it Girardi who has to play bad guy to the fans by keeping him on the bench once in a while.

The rare non-start allowed Stephen Drew to return to his more familiar position at shortstop with utility-man Brendan Ryan at second base. Since Drew is being counted on this season to play second base, I was surprised by the alignment. One would think the more Drew plays second base the more comfortable he would become. Girardi’s reasoning was that at this point in their careers Ryan, an excellent defensive shortstop as well, has played more often than Drew at second base. Naturally, it might also be a peak into next season if the Yankees are considering re-signing Drew, who can become a free agent at season’s end, to be Jeter’s successor at shortstop.

First baseman Mark Teixeira, who required three stitches to heal a wound to his left pinky injured in a slide at the plate in Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory over the Tigers, was also out of the lineup. Chase Headley, who has proved a valuable addition since coming over in a trade from the Padres, played first base in Tex’s absence with another relative newcomer, Martin Prado, coming in from the outfield to play third base. That opened up a start for Ichiro Suzuki in right field.

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