Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jeter works out at Waterfront Park

TRENTON – When the black SUV rolled through the back gates at Waterfront Park yesterday afternoon, it was clear that the star of the show had arrived.

The car was carrying Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who, after a successful workout yesterday in Trenton, will play the next two games in a Thunder uniform before being sent back to New York to continue his quest for 3,000 hits.

Because it rained at the Yankees complex in Tampa yesterday, Jeter came up a day early to proceed with his scheduled activities.

With Thunder shortstop Jose Pirela as his training partner for the day, Jeter took batting practice, played catch, fielded grounders and ran from home to first and home to second before calling it quits.

As far as in-game action goes, Jeter will hit leadoff and play shortstop, just like he does with the Yankees. For his part, Pirela had a little fun with his manager when he found out Jeter would be displacing him for the weekend.

“(Thunder manager) Tony Franklin asked me ‘Where are you going to play now,” he explained. “I said, ‘I don’t know. Jeter’s going to have to play second base. I’m the shortstop here.’”

Jokes aside, Pirela did realize the gravitas his time on the field with Jeter carried. Other than Brad Suttle, who played first base for the infield drills, Pirela was the only other player who helped the Yankees legend prepare for his rehab games.

“It was kind of like an unbelievable feeling,” he said through Dellin Betances, who interpreted. “It was pretty much surreal, I didn’t believe it was real. It was great to be hitting with The Captain.

Corban Joseph, who will more than likely be Jeter’s double play partner in at least one of the games, had to give up his traditional number 2 for the weekend. Unlike in the big leagues, when the only way to swap numbers comes via a trade or outright purchase from another player, Joseph didn’t have much of a say.

“I didn’t have a choice in the matter,” he said. “They just came in and took it.” He’ll wear number 3 while Jeter is here.

Jeter has been on the disabled list since June 14 with a strained right calf, which has kept him six hits away from becoming the first Yankee to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. He was eligible to come off the shelf on June 29, but was still experiencing soreness.

This marks the second time Jeter has come to the capital city to work his way back from an injury. The first time was in 2003, when he played five games while recovering from a bum shoulder.

He went 8-for-18 during that stretch, including a double, a triple, two runs scored and five RBIs against the Binghamton Mets and the New Haven Ravens, the latter of which no longer exists.

During that series, the Thunder drew 41,093 fans to Waterfront Park, including 8,729 for the second game.

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