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Jeter to miss at least a month with injury

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

TORONTO (AP) -- Even the highest payroll in baseball couldn't prepare the New York Yankees for what they face now -- playing without leader Derek Jeter for at least a month.

Jeter was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after dislocating his left shoulder on opening night. The Yankees expect to be without their All-Star shortstop for much longer, and it could be up to four months if he needs surgery.

''We miss him when he's out of the lineup for one game,'' manager Joe Torre said. ''To have him out for an extended period of time, we're lucky we haven't had that happen before. This will probably be a month or more. There will be a big void.''

Jeter will fly with the team to Tampa, Fla., after Wednesday night's game and have an MRI test conducted by Dr. Allen Miller on Thursday. The Yankees, who open a three-game series with the Devil Rays on Friday, hold spring training in Tampa and have extensive facilities there.

''I'm sure there will be a second opinion after that. Then the doctors will get together and consult and determine a course of action,'' general manager Brian Cashman said. ''It's six weeks minimum. It could be sooner. It certainly could be later.''

The test will show the extent of the damage and whether Jeter needs surgery, said Dr. Jonathan Glashow, a shoulder specialist.

Glashow, an orthopedic surgeon at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, said Jeter could be back in four-to-six weeks if he doesn't need surgery or three-to-four months if he does need an operation.

''Thursday will be the day we'll get at least some sign to the course of action and the ultimate downtime,'' Cashman said.

Cashman said the Yankees were more comfortable having their doctors in Florida examine Jeter than having tests in Toronto. The team also figured it would be easier for Jeter to stay with the team that to fly to New York on his own for the tests.

''I don't think it really makes a difference if we do it now or Thursday,'' Jeter said. ''I want to find out. Obviously, something is wrong, because something is out of place. Something probably has to be torn.''

Erick Almonte will get most of the time there while Jeter is hurt, although Enrique Wilson started at shortstop Tuesday and went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Yankees 10-1 win over Toronto.

Jeter hurt his shoulder in the third inning Monday night when he slid headfirst going from first to third on an infield groundout.

Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby, covering third because of an overshifted infield, landed on Jeter's shoulder in a violent collision. Jeter was down for more than 10 minutes, writhing in pain as concerned teammates surrounded him.

Some of the Yankees thought it was a dirty play. Huckaby called it a ''freak'' play and left a message on Jeter's cell phone, apologizing.

Torre said Huckaby was just being aggressive, and Jeter said he wasn't sure whether the catcher could have avoided the collision.

''I'm just angry I'm going to miss a long time. I'm not happy about it,'' Jeter said. ''I've never done this before. I have no idea how long it will take. I'll be cautious because it's early in the season.''

With a payroll of about $150 million -- at least $30 million higher than any other team and more than double what most teams pay -- the Yankees usually have the depth to overcome injuries.

They have seven starting pitchers, an experienced closer in Juan Acevedo to step in when Mariano Rivera hurt his groin, and many players on the bench who were starters elsewhere.

At shortstop, the Yankees aren't as deep. Jeter, a five-time All-Star, has been the Yankees' leader during their run of four World Series titles and five AL pennants since 1996.

He has played at least 148 games each season, going on the disabled list only three times with minor injuries.

''He'll be missed a ton, no doubt about it,'' first baseman Jason Giambi said. ''This is just some adversity we have to overcome. We've all been through it before, just not with a player like Jeter. We have a lot of great players on this team and we'll all have to pick up the slack a little bit.''

Almonte was unpacking his car in Columbus on Monday night when Rob Thomson, the vice president of minor league development, called and told him to be ready.

Almonte drove to Cincinnati on Tuesday morning to meet someone at the airport who brought his passport from Tampa. Almonte arrived in Toronto about three hours before the game.

''I wasn't expecting it. I always want to play in the big leagues. I never expected a guy like Jeter to go down,'' he said. ''He's a guy who is a future Hall of Famer. He's my idol. I enjoy watching him play. I watch him play all the time. He's fun to watch. I'm just going to try to do my job and play well.''

Once considered a promising prospect, the 25-year-old Almonte struggled last season. He hit .235 in 66 games at Triple-A Columbus before being demoted to Double-A Norwich, where he batted .241 in 53 games.

''I don't expect the kid to come in here and be what Derek Jeter is,'' Torre said. ''On the Yankees, we probably get more attention than anyone else. This kid will be under a magnifying glass.''



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