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Derek Jeter clarifies All-Star absence

TORONTO -- Trying to put his All-Star absence controversy behind him, New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter said he did not go to the Phoenix because he wanted to rest his calf for the second half.

"It wasn't an exhaustion thing, it was an injury thing is why I didn't go," Jeter said Thursday.

FoxSports.com had reported that Jeter didn't attend the All-Star Game because of "emotional and physical exhaustion" from his pursuit of 3,000 hits.

"That sounds like a good quote, but I didn't say it," Jeter said Thursday. "I told you on Friday why I wasn't going so emotional and physical exhaustion makes it sound good, but that wasn't the case. It was strictly based on my leg."

Jeter said he informed the media on Friday that he would not be going to the All-Star Game after talking it over with Yankees officials and others. He said it was a "non-issue" at that point.

After his 3,000th hit came in dramatic fashion on Saturday, some felt Jeter should show up to at least wave to the crowd.

"I hadn't heard about it until someone told me it was all over TV on Tuesday," Jeter, 37, said. "I guess I was surprised, is the best way to put it, on the coverage. I understand disappointment. I get that. I understand that fans are disappointed.

"Like I told you guys, I was disappointed I didn't get a chance to go play. I've told you guys throughout the years, but this was a decision that I thought was best for our team for the second half of the year."

Jeter ended the first half looking as good as at any time this season. After missing nearly three weeks with a calf strain, Jeter returned, hitting .370 (10-for-27) in six games. Of course, it was capped by his 5-for-5, 3K homer performance last Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

As he pursued 3,000, Yankees manager Joe Girardi initially planned to give Jeter a day off to rest the calf, but Jeter talked his way back into the lineup.

"Girardi wanted to give me days off when I first came back so it was difficult for me to play in the games [with the Yankees,]" Jeter said. "When I got hurt, everyone was telling me how difficult an injury it is and it takes until the offseason, it is serious, you don't want to come back too soon. I decided to take some days off to help out and turned into this. The days helped."

Jeter said he had not spoken to anyone in the commissioner's office, but he was aware of Bud Selig's supportive comments.

"The last I checked, the head official of baseball had no problem with it," Jeter said.

After the controversy grew legs, Selig defended Jeter.

"Let's put the Derek Jeter question to bed," Selig said Tuesday. "There isn't a player that I'm more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter," Selig said. "He has played the game like it should be played. He's even been a better human being off the field as great as he is on the field. So any concerns that I keep hearing about Derek Jeter, I know why Derek Jeter isn't here. I respect that. And I must tell you I think I would have made the same decision that Derek Jeter did.

"Derek Jeter has brought to this sport great pride. He's become a role model. Earned it. Still earning it. And so any suggestion that I, or anybody else, is unhappy with him about not being here is just false."

Prior to Selig's comments, Yankees president Randy Levine contacted the commissioner's office to see if there was a problem. Levine was told no one had a problem with Jeter.

Philadelphia Phillies chairman Bill Giles, the honorary president of the National League, was the only baseball person who came close to criticizing Jeter publicly.

"I think it's too bad that Jeter in particular is not here, because of what he accomplished over the weekend. I think it is a bit of a problem and baseball should study it," Giles said.

The decision for Jeter to skip the game was made before he hit a home run for his 3,000th hit on Saturday.

Some players, like Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran, said that if a player is chosen for the game, he should attend, even if he doesn't play. Neither, though, singled out Jeter.

On Thursday, a reporter asked Jeter if he was surprised that other players had criticized him.

"Who was it?" Jeter said.

The reporter said it was Berkman and Beltran.

"I'm happy they had good first halves," Jeter said. "Congratulations to them for making the All-Star Game. I've never commented on people unless I knew all the facts. I guess that is the best way to put it."

The reporter then told Jeter that Berkman did not specifically name Jeter.

"That's his situation," Jeter said. "He's not my situation. Like I said, I've always tried to get all the facts before I made any comments about somebody else."

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.