He can hit Father Time’s most violent fastball, even now.
He can be a Captain’s Captain for the iconic New York Yankees.
He can receive an honorary degree from Siena College.
2 bad he can’t pitch.
2 bad Freddy Garcia couldn’t hold it.
By the sixth inning last night, Garcia, a 7-3 loser to the Twins, was walking off to as many boos as Tim Tebow received a night earlier.
Anthony J. Causi
LEADING MAN: Derek Jeter rounds the bases after his leadoff home run in the first inning last night, his third in just 45 at-bats this season. The Yankees didn’t follow Jeter’s lead, however, losing 7-3 to the Twins.
That’s why American Idle — the Yankees’ mocking name for the injury-ravaged Pavano — managed to beat American Idol Jeter and his former team for the first time.
Pavano, who managed only nine wins in 26 starts in pinstripes, only pitched the way the Yankees paid him $39.95 million to pitch from 2005-08.
“Everything that I went through is behind me,” Pavano said.
The Stadium boobirds were not.
“I went through a lot, I learned a lot, I grew a lot,” Pavano said. “It’s more gratifying what I’m doing now than if I would have done it then, to be honest with you after what I went through.”
Paging Andy Pettitte. Paging Andy Pettitte.
Paging Michael Pineda. Paging Michael Pineda.
A year ago at this time, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was fielding incessant questions about Jeter’s slow start that had alarmists summoning the pinstriped hearse out of the bullpen.
Jeter is the least of his worries now.
“He looks pretty doggone good for a 38-year-old starting big-league shortstop,” Reggie Jackson said.
Garcia and Phil Hughes — and whether Pettitte can possibly be Pettitte and Pineda can be the prospect the Yankees envisioned — are not the least of the manager’s worries.
No one asks Girardi whether Jeter should be dropped from leadoff. No one asks Girardi whether Jeter should be platooned at shortstop with Eduardo Nunez.
No one asks Jeter whether he is finally ready to move to the outfield, or to designated hitter.
“The thing that strikes me is, they were kinda willing to say, ‘It’s his age,’ ” hitting coach Kevin Long said, “and in vintage Derek Jeter fashion, he’s come through that showed it has nothing to do with age. It just had to do with his confidence and getting his swing back.”
No one asks Jeter whether he has grown comfortable with the no-stride swing he eventually scrapped early last spring.
“This year I wasn’t trying anything new,” Jeter said.
Instead, they marvel that Jeter, who legged out a single in the second inning, is batting . 378. Jeter waved off the theory, advanced by Girardi, that his pursuit of 3,000 hits became an albatross that weighed on him early last season.
“I think the conversations about the contract were uncomfortable, and I think it made him uncomfortable,” Jackson said. “That’s not who he is. He’s not a conflict guy. He handles things in a private fashion.”
At a time when naysayers were certain Jeter would be be stumbling, he is still standing. Still standing two months shy of his 38th birthday. Still standing in the spot in which he has been standing since 1996. Still standing as the undisputed Captain of New York baseball. Still parrying media inquiries with bland Jeterese, and Jeter ease. Still single. Still driven to win his sixth ring.
Still The Pride of the Yankees.
In all likelihood, Jeter will be the last of the Core Four standing next season. He will be entering the final year of the three-year, $51 million deal the Yankees reluctantly gave him following his .270 2010 season. Jeter has an option for the fourth, and he will almost certainly exercise it, as long as he is playing at a high enough level.
Bet against him at your own peril. He does, after all have three home runs in 45 at-bats this season.
“If you stay back, good things happen,” Jeter said.
Perhaps Jeter is giving the Yankees advance warning that just because they tore the pinstriped jersey off forever friend Jorge Posada doesn’t mean they will get to tear his off — Jeter will surrender it when he’s good and ready. Until the day when he can’t Turn 2 on the devil that is Father Time.
“It’s not here yet for him,” Jackson said.
It’s just that American Idol can’t beat American Idle by himself.
Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter, Steve SerbyDerek Jeter, Carl Pavano, American Idol Jeter, the Yankees, Andy Pettitte, Joe Girardi, Michael Pineda