NEW YORK — A player stood at shortstop at Yankee Stadium, yet the shortstop was missing.
For 16 years and 158 consecutive games, Derek Jeter had been in the New York Yankees postseason lineup, the Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken of October.
When you think of postseason, you think of Derek Jeter, Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
And now Jeter was absent for Game 2 of the AL championship series against the Tigers on Sunday, off undergoing tests after his left ankle cracked during another stressful moment in another sapping game. Taking the captains place was Jayson Nix.
Jeter had scans Sunday, which confirmed the fracture. He was in a splint and on crutches, and will soon see foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte. Jeter will not accompany the Yankees to Detroit, and his recovery is expected to take three months.
Jeters body gave out Saturday on one of those autumn nights that has defined him, transformed him from a strong-willed student to revered statesman.
Trailing the Tigers, the Yankees faced the troublesome task of regrouping without their longtime leader.
First Mariano Rivera, whose knee tore during batting practice in May. Then Jeter.
We had to move on from a lot of different things this year, manager Joe Girardi said. Weve lost the greatest closer of all-time, where people left us for dead. People left us for dead in August and September, said we were panicking. And we laughed at it, and we said no, were going to be fine. We won more games in the American League than anyone.
Moving on minus the slumping Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees did that.
But this is Jeter, as much a part of Yankee Stadium as the pinstripes, monuments and 27 World Series banners. Not since rookie Mickey Mantles knee buckled during Game 2 of the 1951 World Series had such an integral part of the team gotten hurt so severely during a postseason game.
Hes indestructible, former Yankees manager Joe Torre said in front of Detroits dugout.
Maybe at 25. Maybe at 30.
But not at 38, when more gray can be seen around the temples, when the muscles get more sore and the bones become more brittle.
This wasnt the first time Jeter had trouble with his left leg in the last month or so.
Girardi pulled him from a game at Boston on Sept. 12 because of what Jeter said was a sprained ankle. Jeter was a designated hitter for the next four games. Jeter fouled a ball off his left foot in Game 3 of the division series, again was taken out early, and was at DH the next day before returning to shortstop.
Without Jeter, theres little core left in the Core Four, with only Andy Pettitte still in uniform and Jorge Posada watching from retirement.
Jeters injury literally changed the sound at Yankee Stadium, and not just because he caused a collective gasp when he sprawled on his stomach, immobile on the infield dirt.
His ankle broken, yelled out in pain. He also had some words for Girardi when the manager and a trainer rushed out to check him.
Even when I went to the field and I was going to carry him in, and he said No, do not carry me. That is the kind of guy he is, Girardi said.
And because Jeter was absent Sunday, so was voice of Bob Sheppard, the public address announcer who died two years ago at age 99. His recording is used to introduce Jeter for all of his at-bats.
Jeter has 200 postseason hits. Nix started Sunday with four postseason at-bats.
Girardi hoped for a repeat from New Yorks baseball past. Light-hitting infielders have made lightning strikes in October.
Bucky Dent brought down Boston when he homered over Fenway Parks Green Monster in a one-game tiebreaker for the 1978 AL East title. Brian Doyle hit .438 as a replacement for injured Willie Randolph in that years World Series
Two hours before the game, Girardi spoke of Jeters attitude, the one that has pushed the team to five World Series titles since 1996.
What would Derek say? Im great. Lets go. And that would be his message. Girardi said. And we have to find a way. We have done it all year long, and were going to have to do it again.