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Clinical Notes - Derek Jeter's Strained Right Calf
Jon Fendler | Tuesday June 14th, 2011
The Derek Jeter 3,000-hit party is currently on hold. (Icon SMI)
The Derek Jeter 3,000-hit party is currently on hold. (Icon SMI)
The 2011 season has already seen several significant injuries to superstar players, and yet another one took place this week when Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf.

As the baseball world prepared to witness the inclusion of a new member into an exclusive club, a seemingly benign malady threw a wrench into the impending coronation when Jeter injured his calf Monday night against the Cleveland Indians. With 2,994 hits, Jeter is poised to become the 28th member of the 3,000 Hit Club and the first to reach the milestone since Craig Biggio in 2007.

History will have to wait at least another two weeks, however, as Jeter has landed on the 15-day disabled list and is not eligible to return to action until a June 29 home game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Aside from the pursuit of the 3,000 hit club, this has hardly been a banner season for the Yankee captain.  Through 62 games, Jeter has posted a .260/.324/.324 triple-slash line, the lowest of his career in all three categories and in particular the slugging department.  The New York media, not exactly renowned for patience and courtesy, has peppered Jeter with questions about his decline in production and wondered aloud whether this season is the beginning of a downward trajectory for the rest of his career.

The 2011 stats accumulated by Jeter pale in comparison to the exemplary numbers to which we are accustomed, yet they far outpace those posted by the alternatives.  With Jeter now out of action for two weeks, the Yankees will turn to 24-year old shortshop Eduardo Nunez.  A slender 155 pounds, Nunez lacks power and profiles as a slick-fielding slap hitter who may be able to hit for a decent average.  In 61 plate appearances this season, he has posted a .214/.254/.339 line and has yet to find any consistency.  Perhaps playing every day for the next few weeks will allow him to establish a rhythm and comfort zone.

If he is able to get on base, Nunez has terrific speed and has swiped 11 bases in 62 games over the past two seasons.  Brett Gardner will handle leadoff duties, meaning Nunez will have little pressure hitting out of the ninth spot in the order.

The other option at shortstop for the Yankees is 25 year-old Ramiro Pena, who fashioned a respectable .287/.317/.387 line in 121 plate appearances in 2009, but floundered in 167 plate appearances in 2010 with a .227/.258/.247 performance.  Pena was called up from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on Tuesday and could see a few at-bats over the next few weeks.

If you are looking for fantasy options in the interim, there are a number of capable replacements available in most leagues.  Perhaps the most intriguing one is Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Tabbed by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Dodgers organization prior to the 2011 season, Gordon needs to add quite a bit of weight and has yet to fill out his frame.  He will not hit for any power, but the speed is extraordinary and he has demonstrated a good approach at the plate.  He should hit for or slightly above average and swipe a handful of bases in the next few weeks as the full-time leadoff hitter in an improving Dodgers lineup.  Additionally, Gordon owners will be the primary beneficiaries of Matt Kemp's explosive run production and power numbers.

Jon FendlerJon Fendler is a rising senior political science major at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. After graduation, he plans on attending law school with a focus on business and sports. He does not have a favorite baseball team, which enables him to view (almost) every player and organization with neutrality.