Joe Torre hopes to see 3,000th hit

Updated: June 27, 2011, 9:02 AM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre, who managed New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for the first 12 years of his career, believes that Jeter will retire before he becomes a detriment to the team.

"I think Derek is gonna be of a mind that if he doesn't feel he can help you, he's gonna do something else," said Torre, who put on the pinstripes for the first time since Oct. 8, 2007, on Sunday afternoon and appeared in his first Old-Timers' Day game.

Torre and Jeter, who have always had the utmost respect for one another, continue to maintain a close relationship, Torre said.

Torre, who now serves as MLB's vice president of baseball operations, had altered his schedule so that he'd have the opportunity to see Jeter's 3,000th hit live and in-person.

But Jeter strained his right calf on June 13 and remains six hits shy of becoming the 28th player in baseball history to reach the 3,000-hit club.

"I'm disappointed about it," Torre said. "Now that I made my own schedule for the first time, I had it pretty well figured out that I was going to be there. I was there (in New York on Thursday) before they went to Chicago and Cincinnati. I had it locked."

"But then he selfishly got hurt," Torre joked. "So I gotta figure it out again."

Torre said he's going to do everything in his power to be there for the milestone, but doesn't know for certain if he'll be able to now.

Jeter could soon start a running program, a key step in his rehabilitation program.

"Hopefully that will be tomorrow or the next day," Jeter said Sunday.

Jeter turned 37 on Sunday, but although his skills have diminished, Torre said his presence in the batter's box -- no matter how old he is -- will always strike fear in opposing managers.

"I don't care how old he is, he'll always scare that opposing manager, because you're always wondering 'Does he have one hit left in him or five?' But if he has one, it'll be with the game on the line," he said.

Torre said it's fitting that Jeter will be the first Yankee in the franchise's 108-year history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.

"Considering what he's meant to the franchise and how consistent he's been in his hunger to win, I think it exemplifies this organization and how George Steinbrenner expected it to be. So it's appropriate for Derek to be that guy," Torre said.

Torre was asked if he had any advice for Jeter.

"I can't give him any advice," Torre said. "Because I remember calling him in after his first year. He had won Rookie of the Year, won the World Series, he was single, good looking and living in New York. I wanted to see if his priorities were in the right place, and he gave me all the right answers."

Torre was asked about Jeter's classic inside-out swing, and if it could be taught.

"No. It's natural," Torre said. "And not only that, he's got sort of an upper cut too. I always was amazed by the way he used to put balls into the upper tank in right field (at old Yankee Stadium) during batting practice. He's a .300 hitter. He's not afraid to get jammed."

Torre called Jeter's Hall of Fame career "remarkable."

"I look at him and I still see the 21-year-old kid that started this whole thing a long time ago," Torre said. "It's been a great run, and I'm proud to say I still have a great relationship with him."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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