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Derek Jeter takes ground balls at Yankee Stadium, still on track for return after all-star break

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

The Derek Jeter injury front has been relatively quiet of late, which could probably be seen as both good news and bad news.

The good news: He obviously hasn't suffered any setbacks.

The bad news: An earlier than expected return won't be in the cards, either, and the Yankees could really used that type of boost before the all-star break.

Jeter pretty much confirmed both scenarios when he made an unexpected appearance at Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning to workout with teammates and take some grounders at his customary shortstop position. By all accounts, the workout was light, and was designed more to give Yankees manager Joe Girardi and his coaches a firsthand look at Jeter as he continues his recovery from a broken left ankle originally suffered during the 2012 postseason.

In fact, Jeter himself noted the decision to visit New York was more about him breaking up the routine of training and rehabbing everyday in Tampa and the opportunity to spend a couple days with his teammates. That's what captains do, you know, and his crew promptly welcomed him back with an exciting come-from-behind 7-5 victory over the division rival Tampa Bay Rays.

The real next step in his rehab will be outdoor running, and that's basically the final hurdle he'll need to cross before working himself into game action. Jeter was said to be hopeful that process will begin in the next couple days, and the expectation remains that Jeter will return shorty after the all-star break in mid-to-late July.

Needless to say, Joe Girardi is looking forward to that day, but also acknowledged the importance of simply having Jeter around the clubhouse.

''I think it's important,'' manager Joe Girardi said of having Jeter around. ''Derek's been a leader for a long time here. ... I also think it's important for him to be around the team. Sometimes when you get stuck in Tampa for a while you feel like you're so far away.''

Sometimes physical rehab creates the need for mental rehab. Sounds like both Jeter and the Yankees got a lot of the latter on Saturday.

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