Derek Jeter may not be the best player to step on the field to play tonight at Target Field. Some will question whether he is even the best shortstop on his team. Jeter, going into his 14th and final All-Star game, may not be at the top of his game anymore the way guys like David Price and Robinson Cano are.
None of that is going to matter tonight. The Yankees’ Captain will walk to the plate in the bottom of the first inning like he has countless other times, leading off. There was no other way to send off a player that has meant so much to the game of baseball for the better part of two decades. American League Manager John Farrell agrees. Farrell, among others, spoke to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.
“This is a way to celebrate a player who’s not only a champion but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to — the way he’s handled himself with class, with performance, no doubt a Hall of Famer,” Farrell said.
Farrell, who manages the rival Red Sox, isn’t the only one who knows Tuesday is about number 2. Troy Tulowitzki, who will be Jeter’s National League counterpart at short, is well aware of the legacy Jeter will leave the game with.
“I’ve always looked up to him. It’s sad, it’s sad to see him go, but at the same time at least he gets to go out on his own terms. Hopefully, he has a great showing,’’ Tulowitzki said. “To wear No. 2 is an honor,. Everybody knows why I wear No. 2. Every day it’s a reminder to be a professional. To see him not change throughout his career is a blessing.’’
Tulowitski is one of many players in this game that looked up to the Yankees’ shortstop. Perhaps the game’s biggest star, Mike Trout is someone who can be added to that list. Trout will be hitting behind Jeter Tuesday. He is also a kid from New Jersey that grew up idolizing the future Hall of Famer.
“Seeing him leadoff is going to be pretty cool,’’ Trout said.
A player that knows a little something about playing with Jeter, is Robinson Cano. He spent his entire career, prior to this season, playing alongside Derek Jeter. That doesn’t mean he will take it for granted.
“It’s going to be fun,’’ the Seattle star said. “To be back on the same field with Derek again, that’s something I’m looking forward to and I can’t wait.’’
Now you have heard the stars talk this day up, and I’m sure before the first pitch is thrown out Tuesday night, Derek Jeter himself will tell you once again, it’s not about him, it’s about the game. Well Derek, this is the one time that view does not apply. Because Tuesday’s game, at least until Jeter is removed from the game to a standing ovation from fans and players alike, it is about him. It’s about what he has done for the game of baseball on, and of the field for the last twenty years.