It had all the makings of a grand New York return, too. In his first plate appearance back, the 'Captain' reached base on an infield single down the third base line, which brought Yankees fans to their feet. Not only were they thrilled to see Jeter — or any Yankee — get a hit, they also had to be excited to see him moving down the line at a pretty good clip.
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At that point, he looked healthy. There was hope.
And then, just as quickly, he wasn't. And hope was lost again.
While running out a groundball in his third at-bat, Jeter felt something in his right quadriceps. He actually remained in the game initially and even hit for himself one more time, but was eventually forced to exit when he couldn't stay loose. 24 hours later, he was back on the disabled list and the Yankees were wondering if they will ever receive good news on the injury front in 2013.
To be honest, they really haven't since that point, either. That includes putting Travis Hafner on the DL Saturday with a shoulder ailment. But maybe that will change now with Joe Girardi's announcement that Jeter made it through his scheduled simulated game on Saturday without any setbacks and should be available to join the Yankees lineup on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
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Well, with one little caveat.
Girardi disclosed the location of the game — Staten Island — who Jeter faced — a pitcher from the short-season Class A affiliate — and what exactly the captain did. Jeter took eight at-bats, ran from first to third and second to home, and took ground balls at shortstop. If he's feeling good Sunday morning, he will be in New York's lineup at shortstop, Girardi said.
"It's obviously someone we've been waiting for for a long time," the manager said. "We had him for one day. We won that game, so hopefully his ratio continues."
IF he's feeling good on Sunday morning.
What are the odds he won't be? I'd say slim and none, or at least that's what he'll say. But you can bet after his last setback that Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman and many others will be asking repeatedly, and they'll probably keep looking on in disbelief every time he says he's ready to go.
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