What Can the Yankees, Fans Expect from Derek Jeter for the Rest of 2013?
The Captain has been sidelined all season but should be playing in the MLB by the end of the month, barring any setbacks.
The team announced on Friday that Jeter, who hasn't played this season due to a broken left ankle, has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment and is scheduled to join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees captain is scheduled to play at least five innings in Saturday's game.
Teammate Alex Rodriguez is planning on using all 20 rehab games before returning to the Bronx, according to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports. However, even if Jeter uses the same approach, he will be back just after the All-Star Game.
The Yankees desperately need Jeter, but what can they realistically expect from a 39-year-old shortstop who is coming off a serious injury?
Jeter's return to the Bronx has taken longer than expected, as he suffered a setback a few weeks ago, according to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports.
Jeter, 39, had surgery to repair a fractured left ankle in late October and had a setback a few weeks ago. He was originally expected to return in May but the timetable was pushed back to sometime after the All-Star break following the setback.
However, Jeter has apparently recovered faster than expected, as he could be back before the All-Star Break if he doesn't need all 20 rehab games.
The fact that Jeter will play five innings in his first rehab start is also an encouraging sign.
Whereas Rodriguez has only played three innings in each of his first two rehab starts, Jeter will play more than half the game before being taken out. Both guys are coming off serious injuries and need to work their way back, but Jeter appears to be in a better position.
As the Associated Press reported, Jeter took simulated bats, ran the bases and even performed one of his signature jump throws on Friday. That's a lot to ask of an aging star coming off such a serious injury. But if Jeter can do that now, that's a great sign for Yankees fans.
Manager Joe Girardi was encouraged by Jeter's speedy return as well.
"He's been dying to get out there. This is a really good sign." - Joe Girardi on Derek Jeter.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 5, 2013
"He would be up here tomorrow if it were up to him." - Girardi on Jeter.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 5, 2013
If Jeter is well enough to move like he is and impress his manager, he is well on his way to a successful return. But can he really disappoint anyone at this point?
The team is currently starting Luis Cruz and Alberto Gonzalez at shortstop, but neither has been much help. Cruz is currently batting .136 with one home run in 48 games, while Gonzalez is batting just over the Mendoza Line at .212.
The Yankees' situation at shortstop is desperate enough that anything Jeter does will be an improvement.
Last year, Jeter hit .316 with 15 home runs and led the league in hits before suffering his injury. He was having one of the best years of his career, and he wasn't showing signs of slowing down.
Obviously, this injury is going to take a toll on Jeter, and it would be unfair to expect him to come back and hit .300 with 10 dingers in the second half of the season. However, after hearing as much good news as we have, expecting him to bat .260 with perhaps five home runs is very reasonable.
Ankle injuries can be tricky for shortstops, and one as serious as Jeter's could ruin the rest of his career.
However, things are looking up, and Jeter could be a solid contributor when he returns to the Bronx.
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