ST. PETERSBURG — Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said his job is to get on base, even if it means using a little "acting."
Jeter became the center of controversy in the seventh inning Wednesday when he was awarded first base by plate umpire Lance Barksdale, who thought a Chad Qualls pitch hit Jeter's left hand.
Instead of being a likely out, Jeter reached base and scored one batter later on Curtis Granderson's two-run homer that put the Yankees ahead 3-2.
Jeter held his hand as if in pain, drawing manager Joe Girardi and an athletic trainer to his side, a reaction Jeter said was due to the vibration of the bat and "acting."
"He told me to go to first base," Jeter said, smiling. "I'm not going to tell him, 'I'm not going to first.' My job is to get on base."
Rays manager Joe Maddon argued with Barksdale and the other umpires, saying it was "pretty obvious" it hit Jeter's bat. Maddon wanted the ruling overruled.
"I thought it was going to be a line drive to rightfield," Maddon quipped. "Nobody could tell me that the ball hit his hand, in any way, shape or form, or his wrist. But everybody could tell me that the ball hit the bat. … I really hoped the play would be reversed based on pure, pure logic."
Said Qualls: "For (the umpire) to say it hit his hand and the knob he must have the longest pinkie in the world. Basically, it hit the knob and it was a fair ball, and he was out at first, that's all there is to it. He's Derek Jeter, but you know what, it's still the game of baseball and he was out, and that's the play that should have been called."
The umpires deliberated, and the Rays threw the ball to first, to no avail. All the while, Jeter kept his poker face on. When asked what he thought as Maddon argued, "Don't change your mind," Jeter said.
"I've been hit before, and they said it hit the bat," Jeter said. "So it goes both ways. Fortunately for us, it paid off at the time. But surely, it would have been a bigger story had we won the game."
Maddon didn't criticize what Jeter did. "There are several thespians throughout Major League Baseball," Maddon said. "Derek did a great job, and I applaud him, because I wish our guys would do the same thing."