TORONTO -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi spent several minutes in the Rogers Centre dugout this morning marveling at Derek Jeter's run to Lou Gehrig's franchise hit record. When I asked him what he thinks the atmosphere is going to be like when the team returns home to the Bronx for Monday's split doubleheader against Tampa Bay, Girardi smiled while clearly thinking about the roars the Yankee captain will likely receive on every at-bat. He started today at 2,715 hits, six shy of Gehrig.
(1:08 p.m. update: Jeter took a 0-2 pitch from Brian Tallet for a single to center to lead off today. That's 2,716)
"I'm sure there will be a lot of anticipation," Girardi said. "People are really excited for him and all he's meant to this franchise. Our guys are excited for him. When you start counting down in your head and looking at days for it, I'm sure our park will be full every day again and it's really something special.
"I think people appreciate what he's doing. ... When you're going to see Derek Jeter's name, he's going to be at the top of the list. All the great Yankee players that have played. Look at guys like Yogi [Berra] and Reggie [Jackson] who have gone through the clubhouse and all the players who have played before us. They've got to think it's pretty unbelieveable. Think about all the names who have been in the Yankee uniform.
"Derek is so humble that I'm sure it's uncomfortable for him to talk about it (as I found out yesterday) But when you're as good as he is and has played as long as he is, they're going to mention your name with those guys and you're not going to be able to avoid it."
Girardi said he's amazed at the thought of how many hits Jeter might finish his career with. At only 35, it's reasonable to think he could become just the sixth player in history to get to 3,500 if he keeps playing regularly.
"I anticipate him getting a lot more [hits]," he said. "You start look at the names of people that he's passing and you just kind of go, "Wow." To be able to do what he's done in his career and still only be 35 (shakes head), there's a lot of baseball left."
As for today's series finale against the Blue Jays (it's on YES at 1), Sergio Mitre pitches for the Yankees against former Bison Brian Tallet. Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are getting the day off (with Jerry Hairston and Jose Molina replacing them). Girardi said closer Mariano Rivera, who has not pitched since Tuesday due to a sore groin, will be available today. Phil Hughes closed yesterday and struck out three of the four men he's faced. Hughes has been spectacular this year but he's no Rivera.
"It's a little different without him down there [in the bullpen]," Girardi admitted.
Jeter-Gehrig collage: Associated Press