A week ago, it was Brian Cashman who floated an exact date that Derek Jeter might get into a spring training game. Cashman said March 10, a target that’s now only six days away.
“If that’s when he’s ready, that’s when he’s ready,” Joe Girardi said yesterday. “If he’s not, we’ll wait.”
With Opening Day four weeks away, Jeter’s situation is still rather vague. He’s running the bases, but not at full speed. He’s taking ground balls, but hasn’t done some of the more intense defensive drills. He’s taking batting practice, but hasn’t seen an opposing pitcher.
“I’m good at following directions,” Jeter said. “Ever since I was a kid I followed directions pretty good. But, yeah, you’re antsy. You want to do things. But since I got here, I’ve learned patience through the years. So I know what our schedule is and everyone’s on the same page when it comes to that. The goal is April 1st. Getting in spring training games, that’s secondary.”
Of course, spring training games are also necessary. Can he be ready to play in one by the start of next week?
“I don’t know,” Jeter said. “I think it’s just a feel thing, you know what I’m saying? One day you go out there (and feel ready). Like I said, I haven’t run full speed yet. I’m sure I’ll have to do that before I play. I don’t know when that is. I just come in here and ask what we’re doing on that particular day. … You run in a straight line. Then you run the bases. Then you run the bases hard. Then you do different things on defense. It’s just a natural progression up until that point. But I don’t know that there’s necessarily a checklist.”
Jeter’s return affects the top of the order, the infield defense and the right-handed designated hitter. How the Yankees compensate if he’s not ready by Opening Day … well, that seems to be an issue that the Yankees will simply tackle if the time comes.
“I’m always eager to play,” Jeter said. “But you’ve got to keep in mind the goal is April 1. You got to be ready to play April 1. That hasn’t changed.
“Trust me, I’ll play as soon as I’ve gotten the OK to do so.”
Associated Press photo