Jeter's limp to 3,000 takes on new meaning

Derek Jeter could be heading to the DL for the first time since 2003.


In case you hadn't heard — and if you DVR'd the game, SPOILER ALERT — Derek Jeter strained his calf last night.

This was obviously bad news for the Yankees shortstop, his legions of fans, Minka Kelly, ticket scalpers, Steiner Sports, Joe Buck, Wrigleyville, Jeter's Taco Hole, Jeter's Ford Challenge, you name it. Derek Jeter's compromised calf is a karate chop to the groin of America.

The fact that the 11-time All-Star pulled himself out of a 1-0 game told us this was more than a minor ache, or as Mark Teixeira put it, "He’s not one to come out of the game unless it’s something serious."

An MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain, which like first-degree burns, sounds like a worst-case scenario but actually isn't.

By his nature, Jeter doesn't sit. Unless you Huckaby the man (for the uneducated, this entails piledriving your protective shinguard into an adversary's shoulder for the purpose of mass destruction), he's going to find his way back in the lineup.

The numbers back that up. Jeter hasn't been on the DL since he was Huckaby'd on opening night 2003, a span of nine seasons and 1,603 hits.

Back in 2003, Jeter was a 29-year-old superstar at the apex of his physical abilities. An injury that some speculated would cost him the season ended up putting him on the shelf for just a month and a half. He knocked the rust off real quick, too, finishing the regular season at .324 with 156 hits in 482 at-bats.

It remains to be seen how the modern-day Jeter bounces back. Monday's injury was just another human moment in a very human season for the Yankees icon who will turn 37 (37!) in less than two weeks. If anything, his chase for 3,000 has put his limitations in even greater focus, every weak groundout to second magnifying the reality that the greatest shortstop to ever wear pinstripes isn't so great anymore.

But the diminished skills will never hurt his relationship with the fans, just as a diminished Don Mattingly only grew more popular as his career approached its nadir. Jeter's on Yankee Mount Rushmore, .260 average or occassional trip to the infirmary be damned.

Take your time, captain. You've earned our patience.

Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at dhanzus@gmail.com or on Twitter @danhanzus.

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