Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter called the reaction, and overreaction, to his phantom hit-by-pitch against the Rays on Wednesday "comical" and said he did nothing wrong.
"It's really a big deal being made out of nothing," Jeter told reporters before Friday's game in Baltimore. "I had nothing to do with the call. The umpire called it from the get-go. … I didn't make the call. He didn't ask me, 'Did it hit you?' and I said, 'Yeah, it hit me. Please let me go to first base.' It's comical … that this is really getting this much attention."
Jeter, who admitted after the 4-3 Rays come-from-behind win that Chad Qualls' pitch hit the bat and not his arm, said he believed he had to make it look like he had been hit because that was what umpire Lance Barksdale called.
"You don't want it to look like he's completely wrong,'' Jeter said. "If you get hit with a pitch, it usually hurts. My job is to continue to sell it, I guess. You don't want (the umpire) to reverse the call.
"Everyone says it's cheating. … The ball hit the bat, he told me to go to first. How is that cheating?"
General manager Brian Cashman told ESPN.com he also was surprised by the outcry.
"That's winning baseball, as simple as that. Winning baseball," he said of Jeter selling the play. "He put us in a position to almost win a game, and that's his job. If you're going to pitch in, you run the risk of hitting a guy or creating the perception of hitting the guy. That's on the pitcher."
Manager Joe Girardi defended his team captain.
"I think if it wasn't Derek Jeter and it wasn't that series, people wouldn't be talking about it," he said. "It's trying to win a game is what I call it."
"This is not the first time this has happened, guys," Jeter said. "And by the way, we lost. Must have been a slow news day."