Patrick Reusse: Gardenhire isn't among Jeter detractors

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 6, 2014 - 9:16 AM

Their salute to Derek Jeter — and his playmaking and smarts — included a fitting keepsake from their last game at the Dome.

hide

Plenty of eyes were on Yankees great Derek Jeter as he took his final regular-season swings Saturday at Target Field.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, DML - Star Tribune Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The self-appointed wizards responsible for numbers that allege to rate fielding range insist that Derek Jeter has been a subpar shortstop, even before the declines that go with age and injury.

There has been a kinder view of Jeter’s fielding from mere observers of the grand old game: Jeter had a habit of saving his best plays for occasions of the highest importance.

This is Jeter’s last go-round, and his Yankees will be visiting 17 opposing ballparks during the regular season. The Twins followed protocol by hosting a five-minute pregame ceremony, in which Jeter received a pair of gifts:

There was a check for $10,000 presented to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation that assists drug-troubled youth, and also the last second-base bag ever used for a game at the Metrodome.

Simple though it was, this was nearly as creative as the rocking chair made of broken bats the Twins presented to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on his farewell tour in 2013.

The last Twins game played in the Dome was a 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Oct. 11, 2009, that swept the home team out of the playoffs in three games. And the decisive play of that game offered an endorsement of the idea that Jeter invariably was where he had to be when the Yankees needed him.

The Yankees were leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, and Phil Hughes — having an excellent season in front of Rivera in the bullpen — came in to try to hold it. Nick Punto opened with a fly-ball double, and Denard Span followed with a bouncer through the middle.

Punto was certain the ball was headed into center field and ignored coach Scott Ullger’s stop sign. Jeter got to the bouncer behind second and sent a throw to catcher Jorge Posada. Punto skidded to a stop, tried to retreat but was out at third.

There went the rally. There went the game. There went the series. There went the Dome as a big-league ballpark. Nice play, Derek.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the idea to present the second-base bag came from a member of the organization who remembered that Jeter was standing near second when he threw out the last batter (Brendan Harris) in the Dome.

When Gardenhire was asked about the low opinion Jeter gets from the computer crowd for his fielding, the rival manager said this, with obvious sincerity:

“He doesn’t miss plays. He’s rangy, he has good hands, he makes the throws … he’s the whole package at shortstop, as far as I’m concerned.

“If I’m a manager and it’s the biggest situation in a World Series, I want the ball hit to Derek Jeter … because I know I’m going to get an out.”

Jeter was playing his 144th game against the Twins on Saturday — 130 in the regular season and 14 (12-2) in the playoffs. He will be in the lineup again Sunday. He will be back in Target Field nine days later to make his eighth start for the American League in the All-Star Game.

There was considerable competition for the AL start in Jeter’s early seasons, with Alex Rodriguez as a shortstop in Seattle and Texas, and with Nomar Garciaparra in Boston.

Somehow, Garciaparra and then A-Rod got a bit “overmuscled” for playing shortstop, as Jeter remained the sleek prototype of a middle infielder. There were loud suggestions that Rodriguez (not Jeter) should be the shortstop when he first came to the Yankees in 2004, but as A-Rod grew to gigantic size, third base became enough for him to handle.

Minnesota fans joined in the growing national disregard for Rodriguez, and responded to this by loudly booing both him and Jeter. The Jeter reaction here was always a puzzle that finally came to end with cheers on Thursday, as he started his final series against the Twins.

The Minneapolis swan song for Jeter in the All-Star Game will be the first time that event has been held here since 1985. A case can be made that the four greatest shortstops in the game’s history have been in their primes in the three decades since then:

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Latos 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Boston - J. Kelly 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Detroit - K. Lobstein 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Penny
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
LA Angels - C. Wilson 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Texas - D. Holland 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close