Derek Jeter’s return may be closer than we think

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Here’s the money quote, courtesy of Joe Girardi prior to yesterday’s game:

“There’s always a chance. You just have to see how he does the next three or four days.”

Girardi was answering a question about whether Derek Jeter could return to the Yankees before the All-Star break. The All-Star break that is six days away, mind you. “There’s always a chance. You just have to see how he does the next three or four days.”

The next three or four days? Girardi has always been a classic vague answer guy, which is fine. “We have to see how he feels tomorrow,” or “the important thing is that he feels good,” or “I’m worried about the guys who are in that clubhouse.” Those are the stock Girardi answers when it comes to discussing the return of an injured player. We’ve heard a lot of them this year. “You just have to see how he does the next three or four days” sounds awfully specific considering the source.

* * *

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

My suspicion that Jeter would be returning to the team sooner rather than later first popped up a few days before that quote. It was hard to ignore that he played five innings at shortstop in his first rehab game with Triple-A Scranton. There was no build up — no three innings with High-A Tampa, then a day at DH, then another day in the field. Nothing like that. The Cap’n skipped like three rehab steps by playing five innings at Triple-A in his first game.

“I’m trying to push to get there today, but I don’t think I can make it today. So it’s whenever they say,” said Jeter jokingly to Ian Begley yesterday. “Really, I don’t know what else to say. I’d like to be there now, but I’m not, so as soon as I’m allowed to get up there, I’ll get up there.”

In his three rehab games, Jeter has gone 1-for-6 with four walks and one strikeout at the plate. He played five innings at short on Saturday, served as the DH for the entire game on Sunday, then played another five innings at short on Monday. The plan is to take today off before returning to shortstop tomorrow, possibly for seven innings. After that? Maybe another day at DH on Thursday, then a full nine innings at short on Friday. Could those nine innings come in the Bronx against the Twins? I think it’s very possible if not downright likely.

“If you think about it, in Spring Training, I don’t think I’ve played nine innings in a Spring Training game in 15 years. So I don’t think necessarily there’s a big difference between seven innings, nine innings,” said Jeter to Begley as he continued to lobby for an early return. “I don’t know what their plan is, but I don’t see that being an obstacle. I think it’s more of just day-to-day, as opposed to how long in a day.”

The Yankees, obviously, need all the help they can get, especially on the left side of the infield. Even if Jeter is only able to play nine innings at shortstop every other day, he’d help the team more than everyone else they’re running out there put together. They especially can use his bat against left-handed pitchers, assuming he returns with some level of offensive competence. Ankle injuries are no joke, they can mess with a hitter’s balance and require more than a one-week rehab stint for full recovery. Just ask Jason Kendall and Stephen Drew how long it took them to return to their previous offensive levels after their traumatic ankle injuries. Heck, look how long it took David Adams to get over his May 2010 injury. He wasn’t himself until 2012.

At this point though, the Yankees are desperate. They’ve waited all season for offensive help and they simply can’t wait any longer. Getting Jeter back a a fraction of his 2012 performance is an upgrade, and don’t think next weekend’s series against the Red Sox in Fenway Park isn’t a factor in the decision making either. You know the Yankees want him back for that three-game set, so getting him what amounts to a few big league tune-up games this weekend against the Twins gives Jeter time to adjust and for the Yankees to further evaluate things. The All-Star break is there in case it’s too much, too soon. Will Jeter be an everyday player right out of the chute? Will the ankle need two or three days off a week? No one will know until he gets up here.

Triple-A Scranton’s lengthy homestand ends on Friday, which sure makes for a convenient end point for Jeter’s rehab assignment. He’ll be able to play in five rehab games before then without having to leave the scenic Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metroplex. A short trip home to the Bronx, three games against the Twins, four days off for the All-Star break, then three against the Red Sox. Sounds like the perfect plan for Jeter’s return, if you ask me.

* * *

Did Girardi tip the team’s hand when discussing Jeter’s potential return yesterday? Maybe. The whole “you just have to see how he does the next three or four days” thing could have easily been a throw-away line he pulled off the top of his head. The circumstantial evidence — the aggressive rehab program, the schedule, the team’s needs — all suggests the Cap’n could rejoin the team this week though, before the All-Star break. And you know what? It wouldn’t be a moment too soon.

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  • CountryClub

    The biggest thing is that the Yanks kept quiet how well his rehab had been going over the past couple weeks. He was taking a ton of at bats and everyone who’s seen him in Scranton say they’re shocked at how on his swing looks.

    I’m thinking Mike is right, he’ll be up on Friday or Saturday.

  • Kosmo

    Jeter is the ultimate professional. If he says he´s ready then I say the sooner the better.

    • jsbrendog

      he is also a guy who would hide an injury and go play every day even if he is hurting the team….

      not that this is the case, but it is the overall truth

      • Slugger27

        give me an example of when he has done that.

        • Kosmo

          me too !

        • Ed

          He wasn’t hurting the team, but the whole reason we’re in this mess is because he played through a foot injury until he broke a bone.

          • OhioYanks

            Yep. And, while I don’t know, his rush to get back might have led to the setback that cost him half a season.

            Athletes in general are known for being terrible at self-diagnosing. The really competitive ones want to play through anything. That’s not really a knock on Jeter (actually sort of a complement), but some big Jeter fans seem to be taking it as such. Guy is not omnipotent.

          • Slugger27

            right, he wasnt hurting the team.

            he is also a guy who would hide an injury and go play every day even if he is hurting the team….

            as far as i can remember, this has never happened. jeter probably thought “my leg hurts, but it doesnt feel too serious and itd be a big loss for the team if i stopped playing. only got to make it through the playoffs and then ill get it checked out” …. of course i dont know that was his thought process (none of us do) but im not going to hold that against him. if he was thinking hte same thing while hitting 200, id feel differently.

            you guys seem to think he knew it was very serious and could break at any point, which we have no evidence of. even if you disagree, certainly your stance shouldnt conclude with “this is the overall truth” as brendogs did.

            • Cool Lester Smooth

              Well, yeah. The issue is that he doesn’t get stuff checked out, because he wants to play.

              That’s not a bad thing. In fact, I’d say it’s a big part of why we love him.

            • LK

              I can recall a couple years ago when he strained his calf and didn’t want to go on the DL and said publicly that the Yanks should’ve just played a man short for a couple days. Then he ended up taking longer than the 15 days to get back. Jeter is always willing to push himself through injuries and overestimate his ability to come back from them; it’s part of what makes him such a great player. But it also means that you can’t just take him at his word when it comes to his health.

            • murakami

              You can’t complain that Derek Jeter plays through injuries that should keep him sidelined and also embrace his warrior mentality.

              A player who thinks “Oh, I can’t play through this”, assuming “this” isn’t catastrophically obvious, is not going to have the mettle and mental toughness of Derek Jeter.

              Of course he thinks he can play through “anything,” he’s Derek Jeter, right??

              • Robinson Tilapia

                God forbid a player do the opposite.

                Damned if you do…

            • Ed

              We don’t think he knew his foot would break. It’s just that any time you play through an injury, you risk worse injuries happening. Jeter has shown that he’ll play through an injury until something worse happens. Playing through the initial injury didn’t hurt the team, but that second injury should did hurt the team.

        • Darren

          i CAN’T QUESTION tHE cAPTAIN BUT IF YOU READ THE POST THIS MORNING IT SAYS HE COULD FEEL SOMETHING WHEN HE WAS RUNNING AND HE NEVER SAID ANYTHING OOPS SORRY ALL CAPS BACK FROM VACATION

          • Robinson Tilapia

            DID YOU GO TO THE CAP-ITAL?

    • whozat

      Really? Given how his assertions that he was fine were the justification for playing him on the bone bruise all last year that LED to this injury in the first place, he’s just about the last person I’d trust to accurately portray his own health. He’s competitive to the point that he can’t admit when something’s not right.

      • Kosmo

        Jeter had just come off the series with Baltimore hitting .364 how was that hurting the team ? Granted in the long run it did come back to bite him .

        • JohnnyC

          It’s not fair to state actual facts. It gets in the way of my beautiful narrative.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....;players=0

          Here’s how that was hurting the team.

          • Hardy

            Wow. .218/.275/.277 in 472 PA!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        And guys that don’t do just that get shat upon as not being team players or toughing it out or whatnot. It’s a double-edged sword.

        Not that I want to get into this sort of stuff, but I’d say just about every vet on the Yankees feels it’s their duty to go out there and help the cause, whether they’re at 50% or 100%. I’d say it’s part of the reason you both see the amount of re-injury you see AND some of the late-inning non-heroics which, whether they happened often or not, stick in our heads as if they were occurring every night.

        It’s also why I don’t buy 90% of what was reported about Alex in the past few weeks before the rehab assignment.

        I feel like it’s almost a useless endeavor to not go by Jeter’s assertion as to if he’s ready. There’s not a person in that dugout who’d want to hear otherwise.

      • trr

        We can’t really now for sure…Derek burns with a desire to play, but the reality is that he is a 39 y/o trying to play one of the most physically demanding positions in the game. I’m sure the Docs have checked his ankle a dozen times…and we need him. How much can he give? We don’t know. No one beats Father Time. No one…Having said that, come back soon Captain. Your team needs you.

  • Tipsie

    Grandy’s the one that perplexes me (how long it’s taking his hand to heal). His may be the most impactful bat of all (to return).

    • Slugger27

      i dont think theres any maybe about it.

      • OhioYanks

        I think there’s definitely a maybe. Jeter’s wRC+ (117) was a point above Granderson’s (116) last season and A-Rod’s was 2 below (114) despite barely having any motion in his hip.

        You can make an argument Granderson’s bat is the best giong forward, but there’s plenty of doubt about it. Especially because the bats Jeter and A-Rod would replace if they can play the field regularly are even worse than the ones Granderson would.

        • buster brown nose

          “…A-Rod’s was 2 below (114) despite barely having any motion in his hip.”

          I’m glad you know he was playing the entire season (by quoting a statistic for the year) with barely any motion in his hip despite that being inaccurate.

          • OhioYanks

            I know it because I read the doctors comments that he hadn’t had much hip movement in years. (You might try reading those comments too. Then you will also know it. Reading is great that way.)

            It’s not even relevant to my point, but I would also bet that having zero hip movement after the season and not hitting much at all from September one were related.

            • JohnnyC

              Unfair to flaunt your reading comprehension skills in a blog like that. So unfair.

            • buster brown nose

              So you are not discounting for the new surgery which is ridiculous. My comprehension is fine. Your eloquence is lacking.

              • OhioYanks

                Apparently your comprehension is not fine. I said that A-Rod could hit better than Granderson this season: that there’s a “maybe about it.” Not that he will or won’t.

            • buster brown nose

              Since you’re so well read on A-Rod’s hip, you would also know that it wasn’t an issue until later in the season.

              • Preston

                It’s been an issue since 2009… He should have had surgery, he shouldn’t have played, we shouldn’t have won, and he’d be a healthier person today. Instead he put a bandaid on it carried us to win the WS and hasn’t been the same since. And yes I realize that was the other hip, but one injury is absolutely related to the other.

              • OhioYanks

                Come on, man. You are just embarrassing yourself here and not really making much sense. The doctor said that it has been an issue for years, possibly his whole career. As I said, read the info that’s out there. I am not trying to say I am smart for having read it. Just that I read it. You can too.

                I also literally said it was more of an issue late in the season: “I would also bet that having zero hip movement after the season and not hitting much at all from September one were related.” His wRC+ by month last season were 114, 125, 112, 132, N/A, 93. And then he obviously stunk in the playoffs.
                That helps my case that he *might* actually still be a better hitter going forward than Granderson. Without the hip issue, he probably outhits Granderson last season. Does his hip recover fully? Does Granderson’s hand? How do they both hit regardless of whether they are 100%? I have no idea. I’m not saying A-Rod is better than Granderson. I’m saying it’s a real possibility he is.

        • I’m One

          Completely agree with this.

        • LK

          Given the players’ respective ages, the fact that Granderson, Jeter, and A-Rod were all at approximately the same level that year seems to lend support to the notion that Granderson will be the best this year, not take away from it, in my opinion. Your point about who they’re replacing is important, but I’d note (i) while 3B and SS have been worse, the Yanks’ corner OF hitting has been just atrocious this year as well and (ii) the likely downgrade in defense going to a 3B and SS in their late-30s has to be taken into account since Granderson should be competent in a corner.

          • OhioYanks

            I didn’t argue about who will be better. I responded to this: “i dont think theres any maybe about it.”

            My point is just that there is doubt (“maybe about it”). Age is a pretty marginal consideration there, I would say. Aging curves are a general thing.

            “the Yanks’ corner OF hitting has been just atrocious this year as well”

            Ichiro is at a 86 wRC+ and Zoilo is at 94 (in a small sample). Nix leads the non-Youk SS/3B group with a wRC+ of 65. In terms of “impact” Granderson is at roughly a 10-20 percentage point disadvantage compared to Jeter/A-Rod because of what position he plays. I was disagreeing even that Granderson is a lock to hit better than them, but when you factor in position it just becomes a joke to say it’s a lock.

            “the likely downgrade in defense going to a 3B and SS in their late-30s has to be taken into account since Granderson should be competent in a corner.”

            The discussion has been offense only to this point. Who will hit better.

    • whozat

      If the hand doesn’t heal right, he can’t grip the bat well and swing hard. So much of his value is tied up in his power that anything sapping that would make him mostly useless.

      • Slugger27

        grandy with less power is still an upgrade over zoilo almonte and vernon wells, so no, he wouldnt be useless.

        • OhioYanks

          Clearly the Yankees don’t think he’s physically ready, or he’d be playing.

          • Darren

            Grandy can’t swing a bat yet, so it’s difficult to make an argument that he’s ready.

            • OhioYanks

              And yet that’s what Slugger27 seemed to be doing: “grandy with less power is still an upgrade over zoilo almonte and vernon wells, so no, he wouldnt be useless.”

              As we seem to agree, he would be useless if he can’t hold a bat.

              • JohnnyC

                However, if baseball is ever played underwater, Grandy’s recent swinging of a pipe in a swimming pool could give the Yankees a huge advantage.

                • Cool Lester Smooth

                  Or if they ever run into the other news teams in a pool, rather than a parking lot.

                • trr

                  Let’s face it, we’re gonna need all hands on deck to compete this year…Any/All of these guys, even if they are diminished, will constitute an upgrade.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  Sounds like a 1970’s promotional night kind of thing. WE’RE PLAYING THE ENTIRE GAME IN A GODDAMN FISHTANK.

              • Slugger27

                So much of his value is tied up in his power that anything sapping that would make him mostly useless.

                thats the comment i was responding to. which was in response to this: Grandy’s the one that perplexes me (how long it’s taking his hand to heal). His may be the most impactful bat of all (to return).

                it goes without saying if he cant hold a bat he shouldnt return. thats implied for obvious reasons. all i was saying was that if he could play, sapped power shouldnt be a reason to think hed be useless, or a reason to not play him.

  • Nick

    Surely we have learnt by now that Jeter will throw caution to the wind in order to get back to New York quickly. I really hope the Yankees are 100% sure that this swift rehab schedule won’t come back to bite.

    • hey now
    • steves

      What’s this 100% sure stuff? Think Willis limping on to the court as the Lakers stared in utter dismay and amazement. I’ll take Jeter in any kind of condition; that’s what being an immortal is all about.

  • Tim

    They are scheduled to face Diamond, LHP on Friday. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him then. Nice pickup Mike.

  • Betty Lizard

    O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
    Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills; 10
    For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;
    For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning . . . .

    • Kosmo

      …the ship is anchor´d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
      from fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won…

  • mt

    Yes Grandy recovery is troubling – this team desperately needs some power (and OBA of course too but power is alarmingly missing) – 10 or 11 days with no one else but Cano hitting a homer (until Lyle homer last night) is dreadful.

    I am just glad Baltimore and Boston lost last night – Tampa scares me though – very easily Rays could win remaining six against Twins and Astros before ASG. Their pitching also seems to have rebounded from some shakiness with return of Price and recent improvement of Moore and this year offensively they score runs.

    I agree that Jeter will be back sooner – some have suggested they would not let him come back to start the intense Boston series – I disagree – he will be back for Minny or at the latest for Boston (assuming no physical setbacks) – they really can just DH him for a while since Nunez is back – no other worthwhile candidates for a righty DH on roster.

  • Paco Dooley

    only 1 hit, but a .500 OBP – what more can you ask for after a guy spends that long on the DL. If his ankle really is back to near 100%, I imagine he can come back by the weekend or so. That would be a massive boost. Alex has looked pretty poor thus far, but this team *could* make a run if Alex, Grandy and Jeter all get back to decent form.

    I don’t see the catcher position improving though…

  • Luis Castillo (Not the one who dropped the ball)

    Good, ’cause I’ll be at the stadium for the first time on july 26th, 27th and 28th to see Mo on his final season. But I was worried, with the ankle and all, that I wasn’t gonna be able to watch my childhood idol… It’s so cool that he is, most likely, gonna be able to play those days.

  • Chris Z.

    The one thing Girardi has said from day one is that he needs to see Jeter play back to back 9 inning games before he will be back. Either the higher ups have vetoed that idea or once we see the first 9 inning Jeter game we know his return is at most 1 day away. I would think he will go 9 tomorrow then 9 again Thursday to return Friday at DH for Friday. He might DH all the way to Sunday so he has a little fielding time before the ASG then I’d think we see him back on the field in Boston.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    This is still rather surprising, but we shall see.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Somewhat straddling the off-topic line (Jeter’s linked to offensive futility right now, and so are trades…), but Tim Dierkes gave some pretty good reasoning why trading Hughes/Joba and trading for Ruiz/Utley isn’t as easy as some would like for it to be.

    • Kosmo

      actually it´s Young not Utley. Feinsand is the one who reported the Joba for Young rumored deal but he got his facts mixed up. He claims Young would be a 7 million salary dump which is inaccurate it would be more like 2 million. Texas is eating 10 million of Young´s 16 million 2013 salary.
      NY should pull the trigger on a Ruiz/Young deal while the Phils tank in the next 2 weeks.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Wasn’t really referencing anything specific. Just threw those names out there because they’ve been talked about here. Thanks for the clarification, though. I hadn’t read the Feinsand rumor.

  • OhioYanks

    “My suspicion that Jeter would be returning to the team sooner rather than later first popped up a few days before that quote. It was hard to ignore that he played five innings at shortstop in his first rehab game with Triple-A Scranton.”

    A regular Sherlock Holmes…

    • Robinson Tilapia

      What a Ted thing to say.

    • buster brown nose

      Eff you Watson.

  • Opus

    Awaiting the Cashman statement saying Girardi should shut the f— up.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Eh, Jeter would just have him fired.

      He might send him a gift basket afterwards, though!

    • JohnnyC

      I guess ARod doesn’t read Cashman’s press clippings that say he has TOTAL CONTROL of the organization in all its baseball activities. The kind of control that gives you the authority to tell an employee to STFU. Or is that not part of TOTAL CONTROL?

    • JLC 776

      Dammit… you beat me to posting this. I think it’s my favorite Yankee meme of the year.

  • JohnnyC

    “Derek Jeter’s return may be closer than we think”

    And the 2013 Yankees season is on the verge of showing up in the rear view mirror…

    • OhioYanks

      There’s still 45% of the season left.

      • buster brown nose

        He never said the season was less than 45% over. Good job Professor Moriarty.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          GOD! You just have to show everyone how smart you are, don’t you, buster brown nose.

          • Jim Is Bored

            We need Mrs. Hudson to come clean this mess up.

        • OhioYanks

          “He never said the season was less than 45% over.”

          Nor did I imply he did. I stated a fact. Nothing more.

          Nice try dickweed.

      • 461deep

        Derek is 1-6, ground single so how the he looks
        great BS. Played only 5 innings in field, Can he
        possibly be ready by Friday? Desperation is fueling hallucinations here. He is preasuring MNGMNT to get in that’s the rub. He shoud come back after the break.