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Monday, March 31
Updated: April 1, 12:37 PM ET
Jeter suffers dislocated left shoulder in collision

Associated Press

TORONTO -- Derek Jeter, the heart and soul of the Yankees, was knocked out of New York's opener Monday night with a dislocated left shoulder after a violent collision at third base with Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby.

Mon., March 31
How will the Yankees do without Derek Jeter? How would we know? For the last seven years, he has always been there: in the middle of the rally, in the middle of the diamond, in the middle of the clubhouse. He has averaged 154 games a year at shortstop since the start of the 1996 season.

When Joe Torre has tried to rest him, Jeter has resisted, opting to play. Now, it appears, Torre has no choice. The Yankees will have to go without a career .317 hitter, leaving a hole in the No. 2 spot, where he protects leadoff man Alfonso Soriano and gets on base for the big boys, led by Jason Giambi. Soriano walked 23 times last year; it is usually Jeter who works the count, it is Jeter who is hitting when Soriano is running.

The Yankees will be without their defensive leader. It is Jeter who runs the infield from his position. It is Jeter who mostly helps Soriano, a talented, but raw second baseman who isn't always immediately certain where he is supposed to be on every play. It is Jeter who handles the throws on the 3-6-3 double plays from Giambi, who isn't the greatest of throwers.

The Yankees will be without one of their team leaders. For Torre, the consummate leader was, and always will be, former teammate Bob Gibson, for his tenacity, his hatred of losing and his insistence on doing things correctly. Torre compares Jeter to Gibson all the time.

Enrique Wilson, a sure-handed infielder, will replace Jeter for now. But he knows, as do all the Yankees, there is no replacing Derek Jeter.

Jeter will go on the disabled list and be sidelined for at least two weeks, New York manager Joe Torre said after the Yankees' 8-4 win. But the extent of the injury wasn't immediately clear. "It's going to be awhile,'' Jeter said. "This isn't getting hit by a pitch or spraining an ankle. Hopefully, there's nothing wrong.''

Jeter was injured in the third inning on a headfirst slide into third base.

"There's nothing broken, but they still have to take an MRI,'' Jeter said.

Jeter was down for more than 10 minutes, writhing in pain and surrounded by worried teammates. He was helped onto a cart by trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue, strapped in place sitting upright and taken off the field -- his head bent, his face dripping with sweat.

"It hurts. I can't really describe it,'' Jeter said. "When it happened I was scared. I didn't know what happened. The worst part is getting it back in.''

After the shoulder was popped back in place, Jeter was taken to a hospital for X-rays. He will have an MRI on Tuesday.

"I think no question it will be a DL. How long it takes beyond the initial two weeks, we don't know,'' Torre said. "I think the X-rays were OK. The good thing that happened is it was the left shoulder.''

The five-time All-Star has been the Yankees' leader during their run of four World Series titles and five AL pennants since 1996.

"He's a big part of what we do, emotionally,'' Torre said. "The numbers he puts up are sort of icing on the cake. It's what he gives us, a presence.''

The Yankees will recall Erick Almonte from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. Torre told backup infielder Enrique Wilson that Almonte will get most of the playing time while Jeter is out.

"It's going to be tough without him,'' said catcher Jorge Posada, Jeter's closest friend on the team. "Seeing him lay on the ground wasn't pretty. I wanted him to get up, and he wasn't getting up.''

Jeter was trying to advance an extra base on Jason Giambi's comebacker, an attempt to take advantage of Toronto's defense, which was shifted to the right side of the infield.

Huckaby ran up the line to field first baseman Carlos Delgado's throw. Jeter dived headfirst into the bag, and Huckaby fell, his shin guard driving into Jeter's shoulder.

"At the time, I was upset about it,'' Yankees infielder Todd Zeile said. "I thought it was a little bit overboard. It seemed like he stayed on him and drove him into the ground. After seeing it again, it looked a little bit more benign.''

It still isn't determined how long Derek Jeter will be out, but let's begin a look at possible fantasy replacements this way: Don't look at the Yankees. Enrique Wilson isn't much of a hitter, and youngster Erick Almonte has the plate discipline of Alfonso Soriano, but little speed, average power and a .256 cumulative average in the minors. In the 12 hours since Jeter went down, a full one percent of ML leagues had already added Almonte, but they're not likely to be rewarded.

In AL leagues, the task of finding a shortstop will be frightening. Guys like Melvin Mora, D'Angelo Jimenez and Desi Relaford are likely already gone. Detroit's Omar Infante (owned in .4 percent), Deivi Cruz (.1 percent) and Red Sox reserve Damian Jackson might be your only hopes. In ML leagues, take a look at Andy Fox, who could at least replace some of the speed you're losing, and Michael Young, who homered Opening Night and could replace the power. For runs support, the 33-percent owned Mark Ellis is a good choice.

As for how this affects the Yankee lineup, someone has to bat second. Look for DH Nick Johnson to possibly move there.
--Eric Karabell,
ESPN Fantasy Games

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  • Wilson called it a "dirty play.'' Huckaby called Jeter on his cell phone after the game to apologize.

    "I didn't mean for things to go down the way they went down,'' Huckaby said. "By no means was I trying to hurt anybody on that play. It was one of those freak things.''

    Jeter immediately began writhing as Yankees' trainers, teammates and Torre gathered around.

    Dr. Erin Boynton and Dr. Ron Taylor of the Blue Jays also came out to help Jeter, while Huckaby watched anxiously from the dugout with a towel in his mouth.

    Jeter was called out on the play because he fell off the base when he was hurt.

    For many Yankees fans in New York it was one of the few games they could watch on TV since 2001 because of a cable dispute that was resolved just before game time. Their joy was short-lived.

    "I think it's probably the last thing you'd like to have happen in the first game of the year,'' Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura said.

    On Sunday, Torre talked about how much healthier Jeter looked this spring and that he seemed "free and easy'' at the plate.

    "It's ironic. I felt really healthy coming into the season and then this happened,'' Jeter said. "It's disappointing.''

    It was a difficult spring for Jeter. Owner George Steinbrenner publicly questioned his "focus'' in the offseason and said he was worried that off-field activities detracted from on-field performance.

    Jeter, MVP of the 2000 All-Star game and World Series, hit a career-low .297 last season with 18 homers and 75 RBI. His batting average has dropped three straight years, from .349 in 1999 to his first sub-.300 average last season.

    Jeter has said part of his problems could have been caused by a right shoulder injury that prevented him from doing upper-body work in 2001 and 2002.

    Jeter has been very durable in his career, playing through a variety of nagging ailments and has even tried to hide injuries from Torre so he could stay in the lineup.

    He has been on the disabled list only three times in his career, never for more than 16 days at a time.

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