Baseball / Sports

Idina Menzel sings Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" before the start of the All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The A.L. won, 5-3. (Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

All-Star Game is fitting farewell to Jeter

MINNEAPOLIS -- The all-Jeter-all-the-time All-Star Game started off the way it was supposed to Tuesday night when Derek Jeter dove to his left for a shot off Andrew McCutchen's bat, righted himself and rifled a throw to first.

The fact McCutchen legged out an infield hit made no difference.

Jeter's uniform was dirty and the Target Field lovefest officially had begun.

Jeter wound up 2-for-2 with a run scored before being removed after taking the field in the fourth.

Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez replaced him and gave him a big hug, igniting another crescendo of applause, the doffing of the cap, more dugout love and a curtain call as a Frank Sinatra recording of sang "New York, New York" played over the p.a. system.

It was a fitting farewell to the face of baseball, a Hall of Famer-in-waiting who will be difficult to replace after 20 seasons.

"I'll miss all of it," Jeter said. "I'm pretty sure I will. I've been doing this since I've been, what, 5 years old and playing baseball. And when I finish I won't be doing it, so I'm sure I'll miss the competition, but the time has come. This is the end of the road for me."

After a taped introduction from late New York Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, Jeter received a long and loud standing ovation, from players and fans alike, before his first at-bat leading off the first. He promptly doubled to right field on Adam Wainwright's 90 mph fastball, a pitch that seemingly was made-for-Jeter.

Mike Trout followed with an RBI triple and Miguel Cabrera lined a two-run homer to give the AL a quick 3-0 lead. But Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester was rocked in the second, giving up back-to-back RBI doubles to Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy.

After Jeter's exit, the NL tied the game in the fourth on a two-out walk from Chris Sale and Lucroy's second RBI double.

With two on and one out in the fifth, the AL went back in front on Trout's run-scoring double past Aramis Ramirez off Pat Neshek, and added another run on Jose Altuve's sacrifice fly off Tyler Clippard.

If the Jeter goodbye seemed familiar, it was because Mariano Rivera swan song dominated the All-Star Game in 2013. But unlike Rivera, Jeter is a nationally beloved athlete, not just a well-respected Yankee.

"He has owned me over his career, so I'm not too sad to see him go," Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle said. "Obviously what he has done for baseball and over his career ... it's going to be sad to see him go."

White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu is making his name in baseball at the same time Jeter is saying his goodbyes.

"We've met, but I look at him from afar," Abreu said. "I get nervous just looking at him -- the career he has had and the things he has accomplished. I'm just honored to be here sitting in the same locker room."

Nervous? Abreu?

"What can I say? Just look at him," he said. "All of us would want the opportunity to play alongside him."

So the Jeter Farewell Tour goes on, and it's only going to gather steam as the Yankees head down the stretch.

He got the perfect sendoff Tuesday, and now it's up to Jeter to deal with the hype and hoopla the rest of the year.

"I'll try not to mess it up the next couple of months," he said.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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