While Yankees captain Derek Jeter has been a participant in spring training, albeit in a limited capacity as he has strictly been on a hitting and taking grounders diet, there has been progress every day. This past weekend, a tremendous step forward was taken as Jeter ran bases for the first time Saturday, additionally replicating a running workout Sunday, and both times, without issue. These back-to-back runs were the first baseball-related jaunts that Jeter has taken since breaking his ankle in last year's American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers.
With this progress have come reasonable expectations, and per Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman expects his 38-year-old shortstop to begin playing in games by March 10, however, Jeter will initially be back in a designated hitter role,
“I don't see why not," Jeter said in the Yankees clubhouse before Sunday's home spring training opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. "When I first got here, I was a couple of weeks behind what everyone else was doing when I first got here, so on that schedule, yeah, I don't see any reason why not. I don't think anything's set in stone, but it seems like it's attainable.''
From that point, Jeter would have 19 games to get re-acclimated to live Major League Baseball action, as opening day is Monday, April 1, with the Boston Red Sox coming to town,
“Twenty days of Derek Jeter in spring training is still better than whatever the alternative we're going to run out there," Cashman said.
Needless to say, with outfielder Curtis Granderson expected to miss the first month of the season and third baseman Alex Rodriguez out until at least after the All-Star break, the news of Jeter's return is re-assuring. Simply put, as the Yankees most consistent hitter last season, with a .316 batting average and an league-best 216 hits, his importance at the top of this batting order cannot be discounted.
Case in point, for even as inept as the Yankees offense was last post-season, the loss of Jeter made the Bombers all the more feeble, which in turn would make their eventual sweep at the hands of the Tigers in the ALCS all the more a formality.
While it is tough to speculate how Jeter will bounce back from the most significant setback of his career, his capability to get on-base is absolutely integral to the Yankees success this season, especially as a small-ball approach might be implemented to make up for lost power.
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Tags: Alex Rodriguez, Baseball, Brian Cashman, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Detroit Tigers, MLB, New York, New York Yankees