Mark Feinsand @Feinsand
The Yankees lineup: Derek Jeter is starting as the DH http://t.co/mQCp2yNw5A3/9/2013, 4:58:45 PM
And the reality is that the return of the team captain and inspirational leader could not come a moment too soon for the Yankees.
His return was highly anticipated and expected to produce great things. Whilst he didn't churn out three home runs and set the world on fire, his appearance back in the starting lineup showed that the Yankees will once again be tough to beat in 2013.
Jeter's return was simply perfect timing for the baseball powerhouse.
The 38-year-old hadn't played before Saturday since October 13, 2012, when he suffered an ankle injury against the Detroit Tigers. The fact it came in the American League Championships Series just made it worse and more heartbreaking for all involved in the injury.
But watching him smack the very first pitch he saw against the Atlanta Braves to left field for a single, it seemed that the Yankees would be all right again. Not that they weren't strong or disciplined without him, just that his presence made it feel like a "normal" Yankees team once more.
It was like a big collective, sigh of relief.
Yankees fans must be quick to realize that his return here doesn't signal a complete reemergence of the star shortstop who has etched his name amongst baseball's greatest ever. The 38-year-old will likely be rested Sunday, then remain as the designated hitter for another game against the St. Louis Cardinals before picking up with the shortstop duties once more (per ESPN).
But after the five-month layoff, simply having him back is the best news possible, regardless of whether he is completely ready right now.
After all, it is just spring training.
In a day where Mariano Rivera's retirement announcement dominated the headlines and brought a sense of sadness over the franchise, the return of Jeter was perfect timing. And in light of a season that will no doubt be incredibly grueling as the Yankees look to establish their dominance in the league once more, Jeter's return makes for a compelling year ahead.
"It's my job to be ready April 1," Jeter said during the week.
You can guarantee that New York Yankees fans certainly hope so. After all, it is a long season ahead, and having Jeter back would make a huge difference.
Both on and off the field.
Will Derek Jeter start for the Yankees' on opening day?
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