NEW YORK Derek Jeter is astonished as he watches splintered pieces of shattered bats spinning around the infield like pinballs.
"It seems like this year more than any other year, the bats are flying all over the place. I can't remember a year where it's been this bad," he said Monday. "It's dangerous. Hopefully, somebody doesn't get hurt."
Jeter is an ash man, using Louisville Slugger models since he came up, and has never been tempted to make the switch to maple. Major League Baseball has started considering whether to ban maple bats, a move that would have to be done jointly with the players' association.
For a while, it didn't matter what bat Jeter was using this season.
He was off to a good start and had a .312 average when he was hit on a wrist by a pitch from Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera on May 20. Jeter stayed in the lineup and went through a 4-for-40 slide that included just one extra-base hit.
He didn't have another multiple-RBI game until June 15, and only recently has started to drive the ball with authority.
Jeter won't say whether he was hurt badly. He always insists he's well enough to play.
"There's other ways you can help teams win as opposed to just getting a hit. There's other things you can do," he said. "You want to play every day. There's really not too many days you're going to be playing and you feel 100 percent. I take a lot of pride in playing every day."
Speaking after a Gillette promotional event in Manhattan, the usually reticent Jeter opened up ever so slightly about the first half of the Yankees' first season under new manager Joe Girardi, who took over from Joe Torre last October.
"I think he's done a tremendous job. I wouldn't say it's a lot different," the Yankees captain said. "He expects you to work hard, show up on time, play hard. That's all you can really ask for in a manager. I think he's done a great job communicating with the players."
Perhaps the biggest noticeable difference in the clubhouse has been blaring music following victories. Under Torre, the volume usually was turned up only before David Wells' starts.
"We had it last year, too. It might not have been as loud. It wasn't like Mr. T said there's no music," Jeter said. "There was a wild side last year, too."
Because the Yankees have a veteran roster, filled with players who have guaranteed multimillion dollar contracts, there are fewer options for personnel changes than other teams have. If the Yankees pull a starting pitcher from the rotation, as they did last year with Mike Mussina, it becomes a major event.
"There's only so many things you can do. You're not going to have Jason (Giambi) hit and run, you know what I mean? Or sacrifice bunt. What can you do?" Jeter said.
Off to their second straight slow start, the Yankees began Monday with a 44-38 record, 5 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Tampa Bay and five games back of World Series champion Boston.
Like many, Jeter thinks other teams get psyched up and try to play their best when coming to Yankee Stadium, or when New York comes to town.
"For a long time, we've been the measuring stick, you know. Other teams enjoy playing us," he said. "We go to places that normally have 20,000, now you have sellouts and people get into it, and get excited. Players want to play well."
Jeter partly is saddened that this is Yankee Stadium's final season, but partly is looking forward to the new ballpark, which is being built across the street.
During spring training, he had said he would attempt to what is the polite way of saying it? find some souvenirs from the old ballpark to take with him.
"You can write it however you want it. I'm going to steal something," he said, not mincing his words.
But he won't say what because he doesn't want the Yankees to know.
"When it's gone, they're going to come after me," he said.
Despite the Yankees' average first half, he hasn't been dismayed by anything that's gone on this season. At this point, all those years in pinstripes have made him pretty much immune to the daily tumult in the Bronx.
"Besides (Hideki) Matsui getting married, I don't really think there's any surprises," he said. "I mean, there's really not too many things that surprise, because I've pretty much seen most things."