Clemens' 294th win overshawdowed by injury to JeterPosted: Monday March 31, 2003 10:27 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 01, 2003 1:47 AM
TORONTO (AP) -- Derek Jeter writhed on the ground, grimacing in pain as worried teammates surrounded him.
Despite all the good that happened on Opening Day for the New York Yankees, what mattered most was their All-Star shortstop's dislocated left shoulder.
"It was a good game for us but we can't enjoy it as much as we like," manager Joe Torre said. "A lot of good things happened but it's tough when you lose someone like Jeter."
Jeter, the heart and soul of the Yankees, will go on the disabled list and be sidelined for at least two weeks, Torre said. But the extent of the injury wasn't immediately clear. Jeter was scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday.
"It's going to be a while," he said. "This isn't getting hit by a pitch or spraining an ankle. Hopefully, there's nothing wrong."
Jeter was injured in the third inning when Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby landed on his shoulder during a frightening play at third base.
Jeter was down for more than 10 minutes, and admitted he was "kind of scared." He was helped onto a cart by trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue, strapped in place sitting upright and taken off the field -- his head bent, his face dripping with sweat.
"It hurts. I can't really describe it," Jeter said. "The worst part is getting it back in."
After the shoulder was popped back in place, Jeter was taken to a hospital for X-rays.
"I think no question it will be a DL. How long it takes beyond the initial two weeks, we don't know," Torre said. "I think the X-rays were OK. The good thing that happened is it was the left shoulder."
The five-time All-Star has been the Yankees' leader during their run of four World Series titles and five AL pennants since 1996.
"It got really tough," center fielder Bernie Williams said. "Obviously, he's one of our best players. He'll be missed. The people who will play for him have to pick up the slack. It's going to be tough. It won't be impossible."
The Yankees will recall Erick Almonte from Class Columbus on Tuesday. Torre told backup infielder Enrique Wilson that Almonte will get most of the playing time while Jeter is out.
Jeter's injury was the only thing that went wrong as the Yankees began their 100th anniversary season with their first opener outside the United States.
Matsui drove in the first run with a single in his first at-bat since coming over from Japan. Robin Ventura hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Soriano's slam capped a five-run sixth that knocked out Roy Halladay.
That was more than enough for Clemens, starting what is likely his final season. He allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, moving within six wins of 300.
Jeter was hurt when he tried to go from first to third on Jason Giambi's comebacker with Toronto's defense shifted to the right side of the infield.
Huckaby ran up the line to field first baseman Carlos Delgado's throw. Jeter dived headfirst into the bag, and Huckaby fell, his shin guard driving into Jeter's shoulder.
"At the time, I was upset about it," Yankees infielder Todd Zeile said. "I thought it was a little bit overboard. It seemed like he stayed on him and drove him into the ground. After seeing it again, it looked a little bit more benign."
Wilson called it a "dirty play." Huckaby called Jeter on his cell phone after the game to apologize.
"I didn't mean for things to go down the way they went down," Huckaby said. "By no means was I trying to hurt anybody on that play. It was one of those freak things."
Before the injury, much of the focus was on Matsui, whose every step has been chronicled by a horde of Japanese journalists.
The Blue Jays caused a stir by taking out an advertisement Sunday that urged fans to boo Matsui and showed a Yankees' hat with bird droppings on it. Toronto manager Carlos Tosca apologized to Torre and the ad ran in Monday's papers with no reference to Matsui.
The fans gave Matsui a mixed reaction -- although there were far fewer boos than for Clemens and Raul Mondesi, both former Blue Jays.
As fans watched on television back in Japan, where it was just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, Matsui came up with runners on first and third and two outs in the first. He hit a hard grounder through the left side of the infield to drive in Jeter with the Yankees' first run of the season.
"I was a little bit nervous," Matsui said through an interpreter. "To get that first hit was a relief."
The opposite-field hit was not what people expected from the slugger. It was more like one from slap-hitting Ichiro Suzuki, who won the AL MVP two years ago with Seattle in his first season after leaving Japan.
Matsui was Japan's most famous power hitter of late, hitting 332 homers in 10 seasons with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. He finished 1-for-4.
"That was a big at-bat for him, especially with two outs, to get a base hit," Torre said.
Cuban defector Jose Contreras, the Yankees' other big international acquisition, allowed two runs over 1 2/3 innings in his debut.
"We tried to get everybody a little first tonight," Torre said.
Halladay allowed eight runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. Second baseman Orlando Hudson's error keyed the five-run sixth.
Notes: The only other Yankees to hit slams in openers are Russ Derry (1945) and Bobby Murcer (1981). ... The crowd of 50,119 cheered the U.S. national anthem and God Bless America. One fan held a banner during the seventh-inning stretch that read "All Bless Iraq."