NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Derek Jeter says he’s surprised his no-show at the All-Star game caused such a commotion, and denied a FOXSports.com report that said he was absent due to “emotional and physical exhaustion” from his run to 3,000 hits.
“Physical and emotional exhaustion? That sounds like a good quote, but I didn’t say that,” Jeter said before starting Thursday night’s 16-7 loss in Toronto. “I told you on Friday why I wasn’t going. Emotional and physical exhaustion makes it sound good, but that wasn’t the case. I didn’t go because of my leg. That’s it. Let’s not turn it into an exhaustion thing. An injury thing is why I didn’t go.”
The Yankees shortstop became a lightning rod this week as talk about his absence kept building. Jeter’s decision to rest his sore right calf rather than head to the desert stirred up fierce debate, even among his loyal fans here in New York.
That was something of a shock to Jeter, who explained last Friday that it would be prudent for him to sit out and rest up for the second half. Jeter got his 3,000th career hit the next day.
“It seemed to be a non-issue at the time,” Jeter said. “I hadn’t heard a word about it until someone told me it was all over the TV on Tuesday.”
“I guess I was surprised. Surprised is the best way to put it, about the coverage. I understand the disappointment, I get that. I understand fans are disappointed but like I told you guys, I was disappointed I didn’t get the chance to go play,” he said. “This was the decision I felt was best for our team for the second half of the year. But yeah, I was surprised at the coverage.”
Jeter spent 21 days on the disabled list with a strained calf before returning to the lineup July 4 and playing the next six games. He headed into the break in style, going 5 for 5 and reaching 3,000 hits with a dramatic home run in Saturday’s win over Tampa Bay.
So when All-Star action opened two days later without Jeter, people noticed. Jeter had been elected by fans to start for the American League — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, recovering from a sore triceps, was among several big names not in Phoenix.
“I think it’s too bad that Jeter in particular is not here, because of what he accomplished over the weekend,” Philadelphia Phillies chairman Bill Giles, the honorary NL president, said at a Monday news conference, “and I think it is a bit of a problem and baseball should study it.”
Reacting to the criticism for the first time, Jeter shrugged off his decision to stay home, referring to words of support he received from Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
“The last I checked, the head official of baseball had no problem with it,” Jeter said.
Manager Joe Girardi said it was “unfair” to question Jeter’s choice.
“Sometimes, to me, people are quick to judge,” Girardi said. “They’re not inside of his body and know exactly what’s going on. That can bother people but he’ll move forward and he’ll be fine.”
With the memories of his magical 5 for 5 performance Saturday against Tampa Bay still fresh, Jeter’s certainly not letting the debate get him down.
“It was one of those days that will stand out at the top or near the top of all the days that I’ve played,” Jeter said. “That was one of those days that are few and far between. To add that all together, it goes without saying that’s a day I can’t forget.
“Besides playing in a World Series, I can’t remember being as happy.”
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