TORONTO -- A lot of the talk from the All-Star Game centered on those who actually weren't there. And the face of that was Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who was voted by fans to start at shortstop for the American League but opted out after his recent stint on the disabled list with a calf injury.
Speaking prior to the ceremonial start of the second half from Rogers Centre on Thursday, Jeter sounded a bit miffed by the criticism surrounding his absence.
"I understand disappointment," Jeter said. "I was disappointed; I told [the media] I was disappointed when I made the decision. It wasn't an easy decision, but I felt it was a decision that was best for our team for the second half of the season. I understand the disappointment, but I was just surprised by the coverage of it, especially considering that it wasn't a story until Tuesday."
Many of the All-Stars publicly defended Jeter's absence, though some talked about how players should show up even if they're not taking part in the game.
Among those was the Mets' Carlos Beltran, who said, "I don't know if his calf's still bothering him or not. Jose [Reyes] is on the DL, [but] Jose decided to come. I do believe that as a ballplayer, if you have no injuries, you should be here, because the fans are the ones who vote for you, who want to see you here. But if those players have injuries, sometimes they prefer to get the rest and take treatments, and try to get better for the season."
Jeter responded by saying, "If I went out there, I was going to play. If I went out there, that was the plan, to play."
And when told about the comments made by Beltran and the Cardinals' Lance Berkman, who made a similar statement, he said, "I'm happy they had good first halves. Congratulations to them for making the All-Star Game. I've never commented on people unless I know all the facts. I guess that's the best way to put it."
Jeter also dismissed a FOXSports.com story that attributed anonymous sources in reporting that Jeter missed the All-Star Game because of "emotional and physical exhaustion" from his pursuit of 3,000 hits, saying that the calf was the sole reason he stayed away.
The 37-year-old missed 18 games with a right calf strain before being activated on July 4, then appeared in all six of the Yankees' contests heading into the All-Star break.
On Friday he joined third baseman Alex Rodriguez and closer Mariano Rivera in deciding against participating in the All-Star Game because of injury. The following day he looked healthy while hitting a homer for his 3,000th hit and capping the day 5-for-5.
In some circles that performance increased the criticism of his decision not to play in the All-Star Game.
"Last I checked," he said, "the head baseball official had no problem with it."
That would be Commissioner Bud Selig, who voluntarily defended Jeter, saying, in part, "I know why Derek Jeter isn't there, and I respect that. And I must tell you, I think I would have made the same decision that Derek Jeter made."
Manager Joe Girardi joined the chorus on Thursday.
"He had a reason he didn't go; I respect Derek for that reason," Girardi said. "He felt that he needed the rest coming off the calf injury, which could become an issue, and I think [the criticism is] unfair."
For the record, Jeter stated that his calf is fine, and that he believes the days off did help.
"I do," he said. "It's just interesting, because when I got hurt, everybody's talking about how difficult an injury it is and [how] it takes until the offseason and it's serious, and you don't want to come back too soon. And then I decided to take some days to help out, and it turned into this. Yeah, the days help."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.