It’s the type of anecdote that sounds like an urban legend: The New York Yankees once sent Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera down to the minors at the same time?
Jeter remembers, all right – because that demotion in 1995 came right as he was preparing to play in his home state of Michigan for the first time as a major leaguer.
“I had everything packed and ready to come to Detroit, had family and friends coming,” Jeter said. “Then we got demoted to Triple-A.”
Nearly two decades later, Jeter was in Detroit on Tuesday, reminiscing a bit about his connection to Michigan before the Yankees played the opener of a three-game series against the Tigers. Barring a postseason matchup, this is Jeter’s final appearance in Detroit before he retires after this season. The Tigers plan to honor him before Wednesday night’s game.
Michigan has always been a special place to Jeter, who was born in New Jersey but went to Kalamazoo Central High School, about 140 miles west of Detroit.
“My dad was a big Tiger fan, he was a big Lions fan,” Jeter said. “Because I was born in Jersey, I think I leaned towards Yankees, but I was a big University of Michigan fan. I still am today.”
In June 1995, Jeter had only a handful of games under his belt when the Yankees hosted Seattle. Jeter started at shortstop, and Rivera – the future closer – was New York’s starting pitcher. Rivera didn’t make it through the third inning, but the Yankees did win 10-7.
The team went to Detroit. Jeter and Rivera went to the minors.
“Mo gave it up that last game. He was a starter, so he gave it up. I think we won that game, and they sent me down,” Jeter recalled. “I think I was guilty by association. They sent us down. Our bags were packed and we were going to Detroit, so there was a lot of family and friends that had to change their plans.”
Clearing the bases
Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura will miss his next start due to soreness in his back, and Liam Hendricks will make his first start for the club today since arriving in a trade from the Jays. … Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez isn’t sure when he might return from a right pectoral strain after a setback this week left him dealing with more pain. Detroit has struggled this month amid injuries. … The Cubs reinstated shortstop Starlin Castro from the bereavement list in time to start Tuesday night’s game against the Reds. … MLB has denied a protest filed by the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend in Toronto. Rays manager Joe Maddon disputed a play in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays in 10 innings.