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Derek Jeter Back on the Field for New York Yankees ... Sort Of

Shortstop Says He’s Still on Target for Opening Day Return from Broken Ankle

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Derek Jeter Back on the Field for New York Yankees ... Sort Of

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Derek Jeter is still eyeing an Opening Day return from his broken left ankle.

COMMENTARY | Derek Jeter took part in full-squad drills at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, the first day of full-squad workouts for the New York Yankees this spring, according to the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.

Jeter is coming back from a broken ankle he suffered in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series last October.

Jeter told the Star-Ledger that he was "a couple of weeks behind" his normal schedule, but says he feels like he's on track to be in the starting lineup when the Yankees open the 2013 season on April 1 against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter is still not running on anything other than a treadmill and manager Joe Girardi said there is no set timetable for when Jeter will run on flat ground, much less play in a spring training game.

The New York Post, meanwhile, reported on Monday that Jeter claims to have suffered a stress fracture in his left foot before breaking the ankle.

"They told me it was a bone bruise and I am not going to ask them to look at it again, and eventually it turned into a stress fracture and broke in half," Jeter said of his left ankle. "If you play, you play. I don't think you talk about injuries because then it's an excuse. I was told I was able to play. Unfortunately it broke, but I would do the same thing over again if I had to."

For his part, Girardi said he knew nothing about the stress fracture.

But anyone who saw Jeter play last September and October saw the beating his front foot was taking from foul balls.

Jeter doesn't appear to be knocking management for playing him despite the injury; rather, he seems clear that he was on the field because that was where he wanted to be. So anyone looking for some sort of vast front-office conspiracy will doubtless be disappointed.

Still, it's a concern for the Yankees to see Jeter still walking with a limp and unable to participate in all activities. Opening Day may seem like it's a long way off, but the reality is that it is only 41 days away.

That seems like an awfully quick recovery window. But Jeter's career also indicates that if there is any way he can play, he will play, even if he is somewhat limited.

At his age (39) and given his already diminishing range defensively, a limited Jeter at shortstop would not be a huge downgrade in the field.

And having the captain in his familiar spot at the top of the batting order might have a calming effect on a fan base that is still reacting to a time of transition for the franchise, which lost free agents Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez over the winter.

Phil Watson is a freelance sports journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan.

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