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“I mean, he broke his ankle less than six months ago”

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[2]Last time the Yankees opened a season without Derek Jeter was 2001, when Jeter strained his quad and Luis Sojo took his place. The time before that was 1995, when Jeter was in the minors and Tony Fernandez was still playing up the middle.

“I didn’t think there would be any doubt (about this season),” Andy Pettitte said. “But (Jeter) hadn’t been out there standing up on it, moving around and running around on it, and there’s no way to duplicate that except to go out there and do it. I know he’s frustrated. I know this is tough. It’s a surgery; I had to do it with my elbow. There’s stuff all around where the surgery is that you have to get all those muscles and tendons back in shape because you don’t use them. I think the doctors are saying that everything is good, so it’s just the process of getting everything strong and where it needs to be. Hopefully he doesn’t have any problems with it after he gets past that hurdle.”

No doubt about it, today was a setback for Jeter, but I’m not sure it came out of the blue. News of a cortisone shot and a potential stint on the disabled list served as a reminder of the task at hand; a reminder that Jeter is a 38-year-old shortstop who broke his ankle in October and spent much of the winter just trying to get healthy enough to walk around.

“I mean, he broke his ankle less than six months ago,” CC Sabathia said. “Would you like to have him out there? Of course. But realistically, if he’s not, I think him being healthy in the long run is what we look for. Him being healthy Game 1 of the playoffs, or (all of) October, is better than him being healthy for Opening Day.”

Jeter on Opening Day was never a sure thing, not matter how confident Jeter sounded every time he discussed it.

“We’ll have to see how he’s responding,” Brian Cashman said. “Hell, he could come here doing the jig. This guy’s ridiculous. … At this stage, I just don’t know, so all I can do is acknowledge that it’s a possibility Opening Day might creep up on us quicker now, given the circumstances, than we would like. But Opening Day is just a date. What’s more important is how he feels and being in a position to do what he’s capable of doing on a consistent basis. Obviously on this particular date and yesterday, that’s not the case yet, but I’m sure the shot’s going to start to do a world of good and then we’ll see where we go from there.”

Associated Press photo