This wasn’t the plan. Derek Jeter was supposed to DH for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight, one more step in his rehab from a broken ankle. The Yankees had talked internally about bringing Jeter back to New York tomorrow and putting him at shortstop.
But last night Travis Hafner fouled a ball off his foot, and Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch to the shin.
“Right away the thought popped into my head,” general manager Brian Cashman said.
Cashman called Gene Michael, who had been monitoring Jeter in Triple-A. Michael gave a positive review. Cashman then called Jeter around 11:30, and Jeter — of course — said he felt ready to go.
“It was just an obvious situation where he can DH tonight in Scranton or he can DH today in New York,” Cashman said. “Might as well bring him in and DH him in New York. … We’re better with him here, period.”
Jeter walked into the Yankees clubhouse around 10:30 this morning. He’ll DH today, and Joe Girardi said he’ll likely put Jeter at shortstop tomorrow.
“I think Derek would run himself out there for the next 70 games if it was up to him,” Girardi said. “That’s just who he is. He expects to play every day. From that standpoint, I think we have to guard from rushing him back too much, and we have to take days off. We have to pick DH days. In the perfect world, you’d have a month of spring training. This has not been a perfect world this year with some of the things we’ve had to deal with. So it’s my job to manage him physically, even though he’s going to want to be out there every day.”
A few quick things to get out of the way…
• Can Jeter still play shortstop coming off an ankle injury? “I hear he’s moving surprisingly well,” Cashman said. “I think it’s easy to say that you would expect with his age and a double break that he’d lose a step or two, or a half a step, but I think he’s moving extremely well from what I’m told. I haven’t heard anybody tell me that he’s missed any steps, let’s put it that way.”
• The video above is Cashman going into the specifics of why the Yankees feel Jeter’s ankle is fully healed this time, and not likely to suffer the same sort of setback we saw in spring training.
Bottom line is this: Jeter is back. The Yankees have their shortstop. It remains to be seen how productive he can be, but for a team that’s badly needed help on the left side of the infield, help has arrived.
“I think you’ll hear that in his first at-bat how important it is for Derek to be around here and what he’s meant to this organization,” Girardi said. “Derek is a champion. And every day he goes out there, he expects to win, and be a winner. That’s the attitude that we want around here.”
• Needless to say, Alex Rodriguez is not quite ready to join Jeter. He’s still rehabbing in Tampa and won’t be back until after the All-Star break. “I think I stated in the beginning of his rehab process that he would got the full 20 days,” Cashman said. “He’s in the middle of his rehab process, and it’s going to go all the way to the end. He’s coming off a very complicated surgery. There’s a reason he’s in A-ball and there’s a reason we were able to put Derek in Triple-A right from the start because Derek was obviously much farther along than where Alex was. I think yesterday was probably the best day of Alex’s rehab so far as reported to me by our people, but he’ll take the full 20 days and that’s where he’s at.”
• Cashman said the Yankees always expected Rodriguez’s first 10 or so rehab games to come in Charleston and Tampa. “Moving up a level hasn’t come up yet,” Cashman said. Rodriguez is supposed to DH today.
• Gardner acknowledged that his shin is sore but said he hadn’t really tested it this morning. He does not expect it to be a lingering issue.
• Girardi also downplayed the significance of Hafner’s injury, but said he “didn’t think either one were starters today.”
• As expected, Travis Ishikawa was designated for assignment to open a roster spot for Jeter.
• Why did the Yankees suddenly rush Jeter? Girardi disagreed with the premise. “You say we brought him along slowly,” Girardi said. “But we had to wait for a bone to heal. Once he got clearance to play, he’s moved very quickly. It isn’t that we wanted to be patient, we just had to wait because of the new injury.”
Associated Press photo