Jeter back with Yankees eyeing 3,000 hits

Jeter back with Yankees eyeing 3,000 hits

CLEVELAND — On a tradition-filled day, Derek Jeter is back playing shortstop and batting leadoff for the New York Yankees.

It doesn’t get much more fireworks and hot dogs than that.

Sidelined since June 13 with a calf injury, Jeter was activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday to continue his quest to reach 3,000 career hits. Jeter is batting first and playing short in manager Joe Girardi’s starting lineup as the Yankees open a three-game series with the Indians.

“It feels great to be back,” Jeter said. “To be out three weeks is tough when you want to be out there playing. But in retrospect, it was probably the right thing to do.”

Girardi didn’t hesitate writing Jeter’s name at the top of his lineup card.

“It’s easy to put him back in there. It’s like he never left,” Girardi said. “You just put him right back in there.”

The Yankees’ captain, named to his 12th All-Star team Sunday, needs six more hits to become the 28th major leaguer to reach 3,000. Although he has struggled this season, batting just .260 in 62 games, Jeter is also just a few swings from becoming the first player in New York’s storied history to eclipse 3,000 — a distinction that would separate the 37-year-old from all previous pinstriped greats.

Jeter said he hasn’t spent a moment dwelling on the milestone, which will only add to a Cooperstown-worthy resume.

“At this point, I just want to go out and play a game,” he said. “I mean it’s been three weeks between hits.”

Jeter said he has not spoken with Girardi about getting any rest or if the Yankees will hold him out of a game so he can reach 3,000 hits at Yankee Stadium.

“I want him to get to 3,000 as soon as he can,” Girardi said. “I’m going to manage him more from a physical standpoint than 3,000 hits.”

Jeter’s absence was felt way beyond the boxscore.

“You miss his leadership and his consistency on a daily basis,” Girardi said.

To make room for Jeter, the Yankees optioned outfielder Chris Dickerson to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Dickerson batted .300 (6 for 20) in 31 games for New York. (AP)

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