Jeter revises Girardi's plans for Bronx sendoff
Yanks manager planned to let star play whole game before fitting reunion
NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi spent all week saying how he did not want to script Derek Jeter's final moments at Yankee Stadium, knowing that he already had a moment planned out. He did not reveal it, however, because he did not want Jeter to find out.
Girardi had planned to allow Jeter to play the entire game, and once the game was done, he would have Jeter walk around the entire field where he would be showered with applause by a sold-out crowd of 48,613 fans.
By the time Jeter would get to the left-field corner, a group of his old teammates -- Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte and Gerald Williams -- would emerge from the clubhouse and wait for him at home plate, and they would all walk into the tunnel together, a gesture symbolic of it being time to join them in retirement.
Of course, Girardi could not have scripted a better moment than what actually transpired on Thursday, when Jeter drove home the game-winning run in the ninth inning to seal the Yankees' 6-5 victory over the Orioles.
"That's why you never plan too much," Girardi said.
Leaving Jeter in for the whole game carries significance for a player who is notorious for fighting, even at age 40, to be in the lineup every day. Girardi credited equipment manager Robbie Cucuzza with coming up with the idea.
Girardi crafted Rivera's final moment at Yankee Stadium a year earlier, when he sent Jeter and Pettitte to the mound to remove Rivera from the game for what turned out to be a lasting image of his career. Girardi said that moment came to him naturally only a half-inning before it happened, proving that it is best to let these things play out.
And on Thursday, they played out in storybook fashion.
David Robertson blew a three-run ninth-inning lead by allowing a pair of home runs. But Jose Pirela singled to start the bottom of the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Antoan Richardson. Then, Girardi called for Brett Gardner to bunt him over to second base, placing the game in Jeter's hands.
"I'm going to give him the opportunity," Girardi said. "He's come through so many times in his career, I'm going to give him the opportunity to get this done."