NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter finally returned and now the New York Yankees are hoping it was not short-lived.
After missing 91 games with two fractures in his right ankle, Jeter's right quadriceps tightened up after his fourth at-bat during Thursday's 8-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Jeter's season debut saw him go 1-for-4, run from first to third without any problem and score New York's first run. He also drove in a run with a groundout in the sixth to Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar but did not cross first base like he had on his previous two groundouts.
"I felt fine," Jeter said. "I felt good. I thought I was moving good, first to third, scored, ran out a couple a of ground balls. So everything felt good up until that point. We'll see."
Jeter said he expects to play Friday. And if he does, it will likely be as the designated hitter because Minnesota is throwing a left-handed pitcher.
His quadriceps became stiff in his fourth at-bat when he tried to beat out an infield single. Jeter may have had to exert himself more than normal because second baseman Johnny Giavotella made a nice diving stop after ranging to his left to keep the ball in the infield.
Jeter's next stop is an MRI, because as he put it, "they test everything around here." He treated it with ice and said he did not feel anything while sitting at the podium for his postgame press conference.
"It's not frustrating yet," Jeter said. "We'll see. They MRI everything, so I hope it's not a big deal."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, "We'll have a test, but we test everybody."
Nobody is talking disabled list just yet, but the Yankees have had three players return from the DL this year only to lose them again. Curtis Granderson reinjured his hand eight games into his return, Mark Teixeira lasted 15 games before reinjuring a wrist and Kevin Youkilis reinjured his back after returning from a lengthy DL stint.
"It's kind of what we've went through this year," Girardi said. "So, hopefully, it's nothing and he'll be ready to go."
Overall, the Yankees liked what they saw in Jeter's first major league game since Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against Detroit on Oct. 13.
"He did OK," Girardi said. "He has not had a lot of at-bats. He got a hit, scored a run, he drove in a run. So I'll take that every day."
"It's great," longtime teammate Andy Pettitte said. "Obviously, just to have him is great. I'm not going to get too sentimental or too nostalgic or however you want to pronounce it, but it's great to have Derek Jeter back. It's great to see him in the dugout."
Jeter's return came on a day the Yankees won for the eighth time in 11 games and put together their second straight four-run inning after scoring a run apiece during a three-game losing streak.
The Yankee rallied from an early 4-1 deficit. The big blow was Lyle Overbay's second base-loaded hit in as many games. After his a sixth-inning grand slam on Wednesday, Overbay hit a two-run single off Kansas City starter Ervin Santana that put the Yankees ahead 5-4.
Rookie Zoilo Almonte and Eduardo Nunez added RBI singles as the Yankees improved to 30-1 when scoring at least five runs. They also overcame a three-run deficit for the sixth time this season.
Pettitte put the Yankees in the early 4-1 deficit but did enough afterward, allowing four runs (three earned) and eight hits for his 11th straight victory over the Royals.
Pettitte struck out two, walked one and spent most of the day letting his defense make plays for him. He was backed by two key catches near warning tracks by Almonte in left and Ichiro Suzuki in center in the sixth.
Shawn Kelley struck out Escobar for the final out of the sixth and pitched a scoreless seventh. David Robertson allowed a hit but struck out the side in the eighth and Boone Logan finished.
Santana allowed season highs of eight runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings.
"It was a start today where he had to work much harder," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Salvador Perez drove in two runs for Kansas City, and Escobar and Lorenzo Cain had the other RBI.
NOTES: To make room for Jeter, 1B Travis Ishikawa was designated for assignment. Ishikawa was the 43rd player to appear for the Yankees this season and his two at-bats on Monday might turn out to the least by anyone who appears for them. ... DH Travis Hafner (left foot contusion) and CF Brett Gardner (right shin contusion) did not start and are day to day. Gardner batted for Jeter in the eighth. Both are considered day to day, though Girardi seemed to think that Gardner would likely play Friday ... The Royals placed RHP Wade Davis on the paternity list and recalled LHP Donnie Joseph from triple-A Omaha. ... Ichiro led off for the seventh time and Wells made his 19th start as New York's cleanup hitter. ... LHP Bruce Chen makes his first start of the season on Friday in Cleveland and Yost said he is not under a pitch limit because he threw 85 pitches in his last relief appearance. ... Perez had been hitless in 13 straight at-bats before Thursday.