New York’s golden boy is back.
Well, sort of.
In Derek Jeter’s first regular-season game since suffering an ankle injury during the 2012 ALCS, Jeter started experiencing quad tightness during the Yankees’ contest against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, July 11.
Yes, Jeter’s presence had been sorely missed throughout the Yankee clubhouse, the streets of New York City and televisions in households all over America.
Nevertheless, was it worth bringing him back before he may have been ready to play with the Yankees?
It is commonplace for a team to wait until after the Midsummer Classic to bring back an injured player with the hope that additional days of rest will allow a player's body and psyche to get prepared for the rigors of the second half of the major league season.
Therefore, was it wise for general manager Brian Cashman and Co. to bring back the Yankees' captain so soon?
The answer is yes.
It’s no secret that the guys filling in for Jeter throughout his 91-game absence were, without question, horrible. Prior to Jeter's return, shortstops Jayson Nix and Edward Nunez were hitting a combined .223/.292/.289 this season.
Based on those statistics alone, one could conclude that even a 39-year-old with a delicate ankle could vastly outperform those guys.
As a team, the Yankees are batting a mere .243—the third-worst batting average in the American League.
For a player who has hit .313/.382/.448 over the course of his 18-year career, Jeter can only help improve the Yankees' hitting.
Very few major league players possess the same plate discipline as Jeter, who is simply one of the best to ever swing a bat.
No matter how trying the situation, Jeter finds a way to help the Yankees.
In his first at-bat of the season on Thursday, Jeter came out swinging at the first pitch. His aggression, without question, set the Yankees' tone for the rest of the game.
While it may take a few games for Jeter to get acclimated to playing again, his presence takes a great deal of pressure off of Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay to produce in New York's ever-changing lineup.
Bringing Jeter back definitely will inject large doses of confidence into the clubhouse moving forward.
Let's be honest, the Yanks have been through a lot and they need something to smile about.
Not trying to put fans in a deep depression, but think for a second about all the injuries the Yankees have dealt with dating back to the end of last season.
The list goes on and on.
Sure, pessimists argue that the Yanks’ decision to bring back Jeter will damage the chemistry of the club and will cause Jeter to re-injure his ankle.
Nonetheless, the bottom line is simply that this was a move the team had to make.
Everybody knows that going into the All-Star break, momentum is everything.
Any team, no matter how bad its record, is capable of jumping from the bottom of the standings to the upper-echelon of the division.
Take the Blue Jays for example. Although the Jays are well behind the Yankees in the AL East at the moment, they have the talent to leap over the Yankes, and anyone else, in the blink of an eye.
Although there are 162 games in a season, there is little margin for error, especially in a division as tough as the AL East.
In the end, one game could ultimately determine whether or not a team gets the opportunity to play in October.
The Yankees made the right decision to bring back Jeter.
In an AL East where the surging Boston Red Sox have been taking care of business since the first week of the season, finding a way to energize the Yankees was something that needed to be done, and quickly.
Bringing back a player like Jeter, who is arguably the most polarizing New York sports figure of the past two decades, will definitely do the trick.
All statistics compiled from Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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