By Mike Harrington
TORONTO -- It's Aug. 26 and the Yankees will finally look much like the Yankees tonight in Rogers Centre as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are in the lineup together for the first time all season. That's crazy. Jeter is batting second and playing shortstop while A-Rod is batting sixth and playing third base.
"Yeah, it's hard to believe," Jeter told reporters in the Yankees' clubhouse prior to the game. "I've missed more games this year than the last 20 years combined. In that sense, I've been very fortunate. It seems like everything has happened to me in a year. It's hard to believe but you move forward. You can't change everything that has happened."
For the first time, Jeter admitted his legs haven't been nearly up to snuff in his comeback from his broken ankle. His comeback has twice been stymied, by quad and calf troubles.
"I haven't been able to work out since October to let a bone heal," he said. "You think about it, it's probably not surprising something happened."
Jeter, Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, who is out for the season, have combined for eight homers and 24 RBIs this season. So it's downright miraculous the Yankees are even within a sniff of the playoff race.
This time, with the Yankees only 3 1/2 games out of the wild-card, maybe there's less pressure on Jeter to be a savior than there was in his first two return games.
"He was the first one coming back in a sense," said manager Joe Girardi. "We had lost Tex and Grandy for the second time and Jeter was the guy that was closest. We were struggling, not hitting any homers right-handed and there was a lot of excitement. Now, we've got a lot of other guys back and it's more you're adding another good piece to the puzzle."
---Ugly potential pitching matchup with R.A. Dickey (9-12, 4.49) going against Phil Hughes (4-12, 4.88). The Yankees are 11-1 against the Blue Jays this season. Take away the head-to-head matchups and they're only 58-60 -- while the Blue Jays are 57-62. Bizarre.
---The Blue Jays' lineup tonight is Buffalo North. Ryan Goins is batting second and playing second base and hitters 6-9 (right fielder Moises Sierra, catcher Josh Thole, left fielder Kevin Pillar and center fielder Anthony Gose) all spent significant time in Buffalo this season. This is the first game the Blue Jays have used the all-Bisons OF of PIllar-Gose-Sierra since all three arrived on the scene.
---Speaking of the Bisons, they will play tonight's key doubleheader at Lehigh Valley and the final week of their season without backup catcher/first baseman Sean Ochinko. He was suspended for 50 games today by Major League Baseball for violation of Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Ochinko was suspended after testing positive for an Amphetamine.
Ochinko batted .220 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 50 games for the Herd after batting.243 with two homers and 20 RBIs for Double-A New Hampshire.
Ochinko was suspended along with Angels OF Brandon Bayardi (Class A Orem), banned for Methylhexaneamine, and Mets pitcher Daniel Huchingson (Double-A Binghamton), banned for a second violation for a drug of abuse.
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