- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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DETROIT -- Derek Jeter was not in the Yankees' lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Tigers, but manager Joe Girardi said it had less to do with the hip injury that caused him to pull Jeter in the eighth inning of Wednesday night's game and more to do with giving his 36-year-old shortstop periodic days off.
"He was going to get a day off at some point during this long stretch," Girardi said, "so I chose today."
The Yankees, who lost 6-3 on Thursday, are 13 games into a stretch of 16 straight, and after Monday's off day will play 16 more without a break. With that in mind, Girardi gave both Jeter and Alex Rodriguez the day off against Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello.
"I talked to Alex [Wednesday night]," Girardi said. "I assumed Derek would know."
Rodriguez later entered the game as a pinch runner when Eric Chavez came up injured.
The news he wasn't playing came as a surprise to Jeter, who shook his head in what appeared to be disgust when he arrived at the clubhouse Thursday morning and didn't see his name on the lineup card. Jeter's displeasure was increased by the fact he has begun to swing the bat better, singling on line drives in each of the past two games and lining out hard to end the seventh inning of Tuesday's 4-2 loss.
Although Jeter's average is still stuck at .250, the fact he has hit the ball sharply recently is encouragement that his bat might be on the verge of coming around.
"It's always difficult not to play, but yeah, anytime you feel like you're having good at-bats and you're swinging the bat well, you want to continue," he said. "But today, that's not the case."
Asked if he was "upset" about not playing, Jeter said: "Upset? You mean like I want to fight somebody? No. I'm not happy, but I'm not upset about it."
Girardi removed Jeter in the bottom of the eighth inning of Wednesday's 4-0 loss after, the manager said, he noticed something when Jeter was running out a fly in the top of the inning.
"To me it looked like his hip was bothering him a little bit," Girardi said.
But the manager said Jeter was likely to get Thursday off regardless. "You can't play him every day, you just can't do it. I think the fresher our players are, the more productive they're going to be," Girardi said.
Girardi also acknowledged he had "looked at" Jeter's career numbers (0 for 9) versus Porcello.
"It's not like there are a lot of numbers," Girardi said. "We have two left-handers coming up after this, so it wasn't going to be one of those days."
Rodriguez did not appear perturbed by the day off, before he ended up entering Thursday as a pinch runner.
"The answer's always going to be the same. I would always, always want to be playing, especially if I'm not swinging the bat particularly well," Rodriguez said before the game. "But I think Joe and I are going to be very smart on the number of games I play. The target is 145-150 regardless of how I'm swinging the bat."
Jeter, who played 157 games last year and had missed only one of the team's first 28, said he did not need a day off, and insisted he was not injured, although Wednesday night he allowed that his right hip was "stiff."
"There's no injury," Jeter said. "I had zero treatment today. I told you yesterday I had no injury. And now, I'm clearing it up."
The only thing that was clear was that Jeter was not pleased to be out of the lineup Thursday. Although he smiled throughout his four-minute interview session, most of his answers were clipped, and few went beyond "yes" and "no."
Asked if he expected to be able to play Friday in Texas, Jeter said simply, "Yes."
That was one thing Jeter and Girardi unconditionally agreed upon Thursday. "I see no reason why he won't be able to play tomorrow," the manager said.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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