- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CLEVELAND (AP) - Derek Jeter’s bid for one of baseball’s most hallowed milestones, the 3,000-hit club, a place none of the New York Yankees‘ other greats ever reached, is almost complete.

It’s right there, right in front of Jeter, the 37-year-old whose game may have faded but who remains one of the game’s biggest stars.

He’ll get to 3,000. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

And, where?

Jeter got two hits _ an infield grounder and two-run double _ giving him 2,996 in his superb career and CC Sabathia took out any anger for being snubbed as an All-Star by striking out 11 in seven shutout innings Tuesday night, leading the Yankees to a 9-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Jeter’s ascent on history is nearly over. He’s one, maybe two or three games away from becoming the 28th major leaguer _ and first in pinstripes _ to reach 3,000 hits. The journey has been a challenging one for the 12-time All-Star, whose game has been scrutinized as never before, and who recently missed three weeks with a calf injury.

He’s having the worst statistical season of his career, and following the game, Jeter candidly said the criticism has robbed some of the enthusiasm from what should be a celebration.

“You’d like to enjoy it. It has been difficult, you know, when you’re constantly asked questions that are a little different,” Jeter said as two dozen reporters and an HBO camera crew surrounded his locker. “But, to be honest with you, I’m going to try to enjoy it from now on and keep things as positive as we can.”

Jeter doesn’t know yet if he’ll play Wednesday in the series finale. Yankees manager Joe Girardi wants to give Jeter some rest and might sit his captain before the team returns to New York to open a four-game series against Tampa Bay on Thursday. If it were left up to Jeter, he’d be in the lineup every day. He’d also love to face Indians starter Justin Masterson, who has given up five hits in 12 at-bats to Jeter.

“I’ve sat for three weeks,” Jeter said. “It would be hard to sit if I had no hits today or six hits. I want to play.”

Girardi will consult with Jeter, “sleep on it” and then make the final call.

“I want to talk to him, think about it and I’ll go from there,” said Girardi, who seemed to be leaning toward sitting Jeter on Wednesday. “He’s four hits away, and as I’ve said, my concern is us winning ballgames and him being healthy.”

Girardi said he has not gotten any pressure to keep Jeter out until the team gets to New York, so he can get his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium.

“No one has ever said a word to me about where he should do it,” Girardi said.

Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the fourth off Carlos Carrasco (8-5) for the Yankees, who had eight players with at least two hits.

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