As soon as the questioner finished, Derek Jeter bristled at the assumption.
“I really don’t have confidence problems, buddy,” Jeter said Sunday after going 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Sagging confidence, though, is a reasonable concern. The Yankees’ captain, a lifetime .315 hitter, is batting just .271 through 90 games this season. Jeter needed his second multi-hit game of the month just to lift his July average to .200 (11-for-55).
Before that game, Jeter finally hit the video room with team hitting coach Kevin Long.
“At first I asked him what took him so long, we’ve been playing for 90 games,” Jeter said. “I’ve been hitting the ball well here and there, just not consistently.”
A perfect example was in the eighth inning Saturday. Jeter smacked an apparent ground ball single only to see Rays second baseman Reid Brignac field the ball and dash to first for an unassisted putout.
“When I hit it, they catch it. Sometimes I swing and I don’t hit it,” Jeter said. “You have to be patient … I feel close.”
Just like the calmness of his answer, don’t expect Jeter to pull a Paul O’Neill or A.J. Burnett and slam something in frustration.
“I know he’s frustrated. He’s one of those guys you’re not going to see him throw something or bang something,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s just not his personality, but I know he’s frustrated. I can see it because he expects himself to play at a very high level.”
Jeter has always played at a high level against tonight’s opponent. A .335 career hitter against the Angels, he is 10-for-28 against them this season.