Derek Jeter makes memorable return to Yankees lineup

The fans cheer New York Yankees batter Derek Jeter as he runs home after hitting a two-run home run...

The fans cheer New York Yankees batter Derek Jeter as he runs home after hitting a two-run home run on the first pitch from Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore in the first inning at Yankee Stadium July 28, 2013. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The Sports Xchange

, Last Updated: 7:28 PM ET

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. - If Derek Jeter's five-hit performance and his 3,000th hit coming on a home run were almost a perfect storybook moment two years ago, then consider his first swing of his second return from the disabled list this year the long-awaited sequel.

"He's a movie," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's what he is. You think about his 3,000th hit, how he did that and think about what he did today."

Jeter became the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits with a home run to left field against David Price shortly after a DL stint in 2011, and the instant his bat made contact with Matt Moore's high fastball Sunday, this had the same magical feel for the Yankees and the sellout crowd that was hoping for more than the one-game cameo Jeter had on July 11.

"I just wanted to get a pitch to hit," Jeter said. "Fortunately it was a fastball away."

Jeter's memorable home run also was the first by a Yankee right-handed hitter since June 25, a span of 28 games. The previous right-handed homer was hit by Jayson Nix, and that was the only home run by a Yankee right-handed bat in 58 games since May 23, a total of 802 plate appearances.

"We hadn't hit a home run since the All-Star break; we hadn't had a right-handed home run in a month," Girardi said. "For him to come out and do that, that's his first at-bat, he's a movie."

Still there was talk about him being a savior to a team with an offense that ranks among the worst in the American League and was coming off its ninth shutout.

"I think what he's trying to say is, 'I can't drive in 10 runs every day,'" Girardi said. "'I'm not going to be able to do that. I'm just going to do my part.' I think he understands that. I think he's a player who has a really good grasp of what's really expected from him and how one guy can't do too much and you have to do your part. If you're in the business of trying to do too much you usually don't do much of anything and I think he understands that as well as anybody."

Jeter wasn't the savior in his return from a two-week stint on the DL with a strained right quadriceps injury, but his presence certainly helped.

"It was fun," Jeter said. "I'm tired. That wasn't a quick game by any stretch of the imagination but it was fun. It was fun to be back. I haven't played short in quite some time here. I worked hard to try and get back on the field. I'm happy we were able to win a game and it was uneventful."

Besides the home run, Jeter had a single to right field, and scored on Alfonso Soriano's two-run home run. The biggest test, though, was when he grounded twice on fairly routine plays to shortstop.

Running too hard is how Jeter landed on the DL again, and he had been instructed to run under control. Jeter did that both times, and he will have to do that again this week to avoid getting hurt again.

"Well, the last time I checked, they don't give me a bungee cord that I can attach to him when he's hitting," Girardi said before the game. "So the only thing I can do is just continue to preach it to him. I've told him once, and I'll tell him again when the game starts today, 'I know it's not in your DNA, but we're gonna have to find a way to run under control when it calls for it. But if there's a situation where you have to run hard, you're gonna have to run hard. But you have to protect your leg and your body for a few days and get through this.' "

That's how he got to the point of having to make a second return from the disabled list. Though Jeter does not want to, he knows it is something he must adhere to at least for this week.

The game also had the feel that another memorable moment was about to unfold in the ninth inning when Jeter stepped in with Brett Gardner on first base and Queen's "We Will Rock You" blared while the crowd gave him an ovation.

It did not pan out with Jeter being the hero, but it ended the best possible way for Jeter with a sorely needed victory.

"I try to do whatever I can to help our team win," Jeter said. "Even if I didn't hit a home a run, if we won this game, I'd feel the same. It feels good to contribute. The first of anything is difficult to get, the first hit, the first home run, the first RBI, the first game.

"It feels great to contribute but more importantly we won. "I wouldn't have felt great if we lost."


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