NEW YORK — Joe Girardi already is thinking about how to handle Derek Jeter's home finale Thursday.
Last year, the manager sent Jeter and Andy Pettitte to the mound with two outs in the ninth inning of New York's last game at Yankee Stadium to remove Mariano Rivera. The retiring closer wept during a four-minute ovation, buried his head on the right shoulder of Pettitte and then was embraced by his two teammates.
New York had been eliminated from postseason contention the previous night. Now, the Yankees began a series with Baltimore on Monday trailing by 4 1/2 games for the AL's second wild card with seven games left.
"It's different in a sense with Derek," Girardi said, "because you don't know where you're going to be at right now and the meaning of the game at that point, and knowing Derek, not knowing if he's going to want to be out there for every minute and every play."
A big difference is mid-inning pitching changes are routine.
"I have spent a little time thinking about it," Girardi said. "There's been other people that have thrown out some ideas that I've thought about. So (I'll) just kind of wait to see how it goes, and I'll make a decision when it's time, I guess."
New York opened the Yankee Stadium gates at 4 p.m. Monday, an hour earlier than usual, to enable fans to watch Jeter take batting practice. About 200 turned out, most behind the home dugout. Several held up signs praising Jeter.
The Yankees also will open the gates early before night games Tuesday and Thursday.
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