TAMPA — It was odd seeing Derek Jeter in a red ballcap and gray uniform Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field — and playing against the New York Yankees. But for Jeter, helping Team USA defeat his pinstriped pals 6-5 in the all-star contingent's exhibition debut felt just like another day at the office.
"It was strange running to the other dugout; I almost ran to the other side a couple of times. But other than that it was pretty much just like an intrasquad game," he said after going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. "It had that kind of feel to it."
Yankees starter Phil Hughes got things going by throwing inside on Jeter in his first at-bat for a ball, then getting him to hit into a double play. Asked about the inside heat, Jeter remarked, "It wasn't close. I told him if he throws in, I'll hit into a double play and get him out of there quick. You've got to take care of the starters."
Jeter put Team USA ahead 2-1 on a two-run single in the third. He made a stellar defensive play in the fourth, scooping a ball headed up the middle and making a great off-balance throw, but 1B Kevin Youkilis of the archrival Red Sox couldn't handle the hop, triggering a round of boos from the pro-New York crowd. "He said he just gave Yankee fans another reason to hate him," Jeter said with a smile.
2B Dustin Pedroia, who won the AL MVP award for Boston last season, was just as happy to have Jeter as his shortstop partner.
"It's a little bit (strange) but it's fun," said Pedroia. "I get a chance to play against him all year and respect him so much for what he does. He's an absolute winner. And I'm learning from him every time I'm out here with him."
Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins will likely get the start today in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.
GAME'S ON TAP: Team USA plays today at 1:05 p.m. against the Blue Jays in Dunedin Stadium. LHP Ted Lilly will face Toronto LHP Brad Mills (1-0, 0.00). After finishing with a 12:05 exhibition Thursday in Clearwater against the Phillies, the squad will head north to start the tournament Saturday in Toronto's Rogers Centre.
LATE NIGHT: Thursday night's Late Show with David Letterman will include a World Baseball Classic Top 10, announced by Team USA members Jeter, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Rollins, Pedroia, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Braun, Roy Oswalt, Adam Dunn and Youkilis.
A-ROD, DOMINICANS ROMP: Alex Rodriguez doubled and scored in a six-run fifth to help the Dominicans beat the Marlins 10-1 in Jupiter. The Dominicans totaled 19 hits. Rodriguez went 1-for-3 and came out of the game after 4½ innings.
HOPING FOR A LOOK: RHP Sidney Ponson, a free agent who has won 14 games over the past three years, hopes to attract attention by pitching for Netherlands in the WBC. He got off to a rocky start, giving up three runs and five hits over three innings of a 5-4 loss to the Pirates.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.