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YANKEES Victory overshadowed by Jeter's injury



Published: Fri, April 4, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The shortstop dislocated his shoulder in a violent collision at third base.

TORONTO (AP) -- The season wasn't even three innings old and the New York Yankees were gathered around leader Derek Jeter, who was writhing on the ground with a dislocated left shoulder.

All the optimism of opening day quickly turned to worry as the Yankees began thinking about what it would be like to play without the heart and soul of their team.

"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 good news

Jeter's injury overshadowed what was otherwise a successful opener for the Yankees. Hideki Matsui got his first hit, Roger Clemens won his 294th game and Alfonso Soriano hit his first career grand slam in an 8-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

"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 will go on the 15-day disabled list and could be sidelined for at least a month, Torre said. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately clear and Jeter was scheduled for an MRI today.

"It's going to be a while," Jeter 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. 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.

After the shoulder was popped back in place, Jeter was taken to a hospital for X-rays.

"It hurts. I can't really describe it," Jeter said. "When it happened, I was kind of scared. I didn't know what happened. The worst part is getting it back in."

Hustle

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.

"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."




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