The images of legendary shortstop Derek Jeter lying on the infield dirt during Game One of last year’s ALCS are still fresh in our minds. Suffering a broken ankle while attempting to field a ground ball, the New York Yankees had injury added to the insult of getting handed a four-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers.
Jeter, by all accounts, worked hard to make it back, wanting to be in the lineup for Opening Day. He even participated in a Spring Training game or two, before it became clear that his ankle was not yet ready for action. That set-back cost him nearly the entire first half of the season and no sooner did Jeter return to the New York lineup, but a quad strain landed him back on the disabled list.
Jeter’s next comeback lasted all of four games before his current ailment, a strained calf, saw him back on the DL, just as teammate Alex Rodriguez was returning.
Though the Yankees’ all-time hits leader is eligible to return to the field on Sunday, it appears as if he’s much further off than that. When asked about Jeter’s status for the upcoming weekend, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was non-committal.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “He really hasn’t run, and been running the bases. So we’ve got to see where he’s at. So it’s just day by day, and hopefully sooner than later.”
Jeter has been working out and taking batting practice, but he has yet to run the bases. Are the Yankee being conservative with Jeter’s progress toward the field, hoping to avoid another set-back? Girardi says that’s not the case.
“I don’t sense that we’re being over-cautious,” Girardi said. “I think we’re just taking it day by day, to see how he does . . . my patent answer is: When he’s ready, he’ll be here. He’s got some hurdles to get by. Running the bases is obviously one. And maybe playing a [rehab] game or two is another.”
The Yankees sit just four games over .500 this year and are in fourth place in the AL East, ahead of only Toronto. New York is six games out of the final wild card position, but have to leapfrog four other clubs to gain that spot. If they are to make a run to reach the postseason yet again, a healthy Jeter will be necessary.