NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter began his 19th major league season more than three months late and after 91 games had already been played.
But he started it with a hit, albeit an infield hit, the 3,305th of his career, before a standing, screaming crowd at Yankee Stadium.
Jeter, who was activated just before the game, swung at the first pitch he saw from Ervin Santana of the Kansas City Royals in the bottom of the first inning and topped it slowly down the third-base line. Running hard on his twice-fractured ankle, Jeter legged out a single as Royals third baseman Miguel Tejada fumbled the dribbler and could not make a throw.
When Jeter scored two batters later on Vernon Wells’ sacrifice fly, the less-than-capacity crowd rose and cheered again, even though the Yankees trailed 3-1.
It was Jeter’s first game since Oct. 12, when he fractured his ankle trying to turn a double play in the first game of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. There were rumors that Jeter would be activated for this weekend’s series against the Minnesota Twins, but injuries to Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner on Wednesday night caused the Yankees to move up Jeter’s schedule and promote him from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, for whom he had played four rehab games.
Serving as the Yankees designated hitter today, Jeter was not on the field for the traditional first-inning roll call, although he got one anyway while sitting in the dugout. On his first appearance at the plate, the crowd gave him a standing ovation that lasted more than 30 seconds as Jeter dug in at home plate.