Jeter savors the afterglow of milestone, heads into break

Posted July 10, 2011, at 7:29 p.m.
Last modified July 10, 2011, at 8:01 p.m.

NEW YORK — The pressure Derek Jeter admitted lying about was off when he arrived at the clubhouse Sunday morning after becoming the first in Yankees history to reach 3,000 hits with a performance that already seems mythic — a home run for the milestone and a game-winning single to top a 5-for-5 day.

Asked if he could relax after successfully orchestrating the big moment in front of the home crowd, Jeter said: “Yeah, no question. To have to come today and try to get hits, it would have been a little bit more difficult.”

Jeter got that right. His third-inning bunt single was one of only four Yankees hits off Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields in a 1-0 victory over the Rays. It almost seemed as if both teams were out of offensive ammunition after the previous day’s emotionally charged game.

Jeter said he celebrated strictly with family and friends, “but not too much because I don’t recover like I used to.”

The afterglow of his brilliant performance was sweetened by text messages from many former teammates. He spoke to Dave Winfield and said he was welcomed to the 3,000-hit club by the Cardinals’ Stan Musial, who sent a message via Reggie Jackson.

When Jeter got to the clubhouse, aging icon Yogi Berra was waiting with open arms. With a smile, Jeter said: “He got me when I came in. It’s always good to see Yogi. He said, ‘Come here. Let me give you a hug.’”

Jeter said his bat was confiscated for the Hall of Fame immediately after his home run, and he still is uncertain about what artifacts he will be allowed to keep. The most important thing will be the memory, but Jeter said it was too soon to reflect because he was just over an hour away from playing his next game.

That time limit didn’t constrain his teammates.

“I got emotional because I felt like I was part of it,” said Jorge Posada, one of Jeter’s closest friends. “I felt like I was doing it. For me, he’s like my brother.”

Second baseman Robinson Cano, who said Jeter has taken him under his wing from the beginning of his career, said he was thrilled when Jeter hit a home run for No. 3,000. “Oh, man,” Cano said, “it’s something that only two guys have done … (the other was Wade Boggs). I feel like that was me yesterday. He hit that ball, and I was like, ‘Wow, he got it.’

“Everybody was waiting for that moment. It was like the last out of the World Series, the way the fans applauded every at-bat and stand up and cheer for him, which is really good. With a guy like him who has five championships here and has played 15 years in New York, you want to see how much people appreciate what you’ve done for them … That’s got to be one of the best games and the loudest game I’ve ever been in in my life.”

Jeter said he’s still not playing the All-Star Game, so he’ll have some quiet time to soak it all in.

NOTES: Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez will have surgery on Monday to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee, and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Rodriguez likely will be back in time for the final month or so of the season, when the Yankees expect to be in a race with Tampa Bay and Boston for the AL East title and wild card. … The YES network says its broadcast of Saturday’s game drew a 6.6 average rating, meaning around 630,000 viewers watched, making it the network’s top game of the year. The ratings peaked around the time Jeter got hit No. 3,000, with close to 827,000 v iewers. … Jeter got a warm hand his first time up. … The Rays optioned OF Brandon Guyer to Triple-A Durham after the game. They didn’t immediately add anyone to their 25-man roster. … Shields hasn’t allowed a stolen base all season. No one has run on him since Angels speedster Peter Bourjos on April 30. … A female fan was hit in the head by a foul ball off Yankees DH Jorge Posada’s b at during the second inning. Stadium medical staff attended to the woman, whose head was bleeding, and placed her in a wheelchair and took her to first aid. The extent of her injuries was unknown. … The game was tied for the Yankees’ shortest this season. A 3-1 win over the White Sox on April 27 was also 2:11.

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