TAMPA, Fla. – Derek Jeter got a partial standing ovation Thursday before going hitless in two at-bats in the first spring training game of his final season, a New York Yankees’ 8-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Yankees captain, who turns 40 in June, hit a double-play grounder to second off Pittsburgh right-hander Charlie Morton in the first and grounded out to third during the fourth against left-hander Jeff Locke.
Limited to 17 games last season because of leg injuries, Jeter was at shortstop in his first exhibition season appearance. He broke his left ankle in the 2012 AL championship series and did not appear at shortstop last spring training until March 13.
“I felt like I haven’t played a game in a couple years,” Jeter said. “I think just getting into a game, feeling good, that’s what I was most excited about.”
Jeter had just 11 at-bats in five games during spring training last year, stayed behind for rehabilitation at New York’s minor league complex and broke the ankle again. He returned to the Yankees on July 11 but wound up on the disabled list three more times.
“He moved free and easy today,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s the best thing I could see.”
Jeter meter: Girardi said Jeter will not travel for today’s game in Lakeland against Detroit, but will be in the lineup when New York hosts Philadelphia Saturday, a game in which Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to make his Yankees’ debut.
The announced crowd for Thursday’s game was 7,763, which is about 3,330 under capacity at Steinbrenner Field.
Starting time: Pirates – Morton walked one, had one strikeout and didn’t allow a hit over two scoreless innings.
“I threw a couple really good front door sinkers to lefties,” Morton said. “That’s something I need to do to be effective against lefties. I’ve got to move the sinker around.”
Morton went 7-4 last season after missing all of spring training and not making his first regular-season start until June 13 following right elbow surgery.
Yankees – Fifth starter candidate David Phelps allowed one run – a solo homer – two hits and struck out four in two innings.
Looking at Locke: Locke gave up one hit in two scoreless innings. The left-hander won eight straight starts in the first half of last season and made the NL All-Star team. But, he went 2-5 with a 6.12 ERA over his final 12 starts and was shut down in September.
Call for peace: Venezuelan catcher Francisco Cervelli posted a photo on Instagram with a group of teammates that included other Yankees from Latin America and Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki showing support for his countrymen. Civil unrest in Venezuela has caused numerous deaths and injuries.
“It’s a little message for peace,” Cervelli said of the photo that included handmade signs and a Venezuelan flag.
Missing Alex: The Yankees’ exhibition home opener was without third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is suspended for the season for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.
Rodriguez’s spring training locker has been kept open by the Yankees with no nameplate.
A-Rod is eligible to return next year, when he turns 40.