Girardi will leave Fenway plan up to Jeter
Unlike Rivera last year, captain may play final games of career on road
NEW YORK -- The idea of how to treat Mariano Rivera's final game came naturally to Yankees manager Joe Girardi last season. Girardi said he decided in that moment to send Rivera's two long-time teammates, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, to the mound to remove Rivera from the game for what would turn out to be the final time of his career.
Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium is scheduled for Thursday night. Girardi has given some thought to how to treat the game, but while the Yankees are still mathematically alive in the hunt for an American League Wild Card spot -- they entered Tuesday four games out -- Girardi will still manage to win the game, no matter how slim the team's postseason odds might be.
"As long as we continue to be in it, he's going to play," Girardi said of Jeter on Tuesday.
Especially because Jeter is suddenly one of the Yankees' hottest hitters. Over the first five games of this homestand, Jeter was 9-for-20 with three doubles, a home run, six RBIs and three runs scored. This comes after Jeter snapped an 0-for-28 slump last week that was the second-worst slide of his career.
Should the Yankees be officially eliminated before Thursday's game, Girardi will have more freedom to script Jeter's Bronx farewell. Girardi said before Tuesday's game that if the Yankees are eliminated by the time the team travels to Boston for the final three-game series of the season, he would leave the decision of whether Jeter will play up to the captain.
Girardi gave Rivera the same option last season for the Yankees' final three games, which were in Houston, even offering to let Rivera play the outfield, but the all-time saves leader decided to let his sendoff at Yankee Stadium stand.
Jeter's decision, however, should not leave much suspense. He has fought against taking any days off throughout his career, even this season at age 40.
"My guess is he's going to want to play every day," Girardi said.
Another factor that could make a potential sendoff difficult is the looming weather forecast for Thursday night in the Bronx, where rain is expected. If the game has no effect on the standings and rain washes it out, it's possible the contest wouldn't be rescheduled.
"We'll let MLB decide that," Girardi said.