Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter: Injury inevitable

Jeter
Jeter
Posted: February 18, 2013

DEREK JETER had a miserable offseason he would rather forget.

Not only did the New York Yankees' captain not win another World Series ring, his season ended when he had to be helped off the field because of a broken ankle.

"Absolutely terrible," Jeter said Sunday, the Yankees' spring-training reporting day in Tampa for position players. "Mentally it was rough, too, but more physical. I was stuck on the couch for a good 5, 6 weeks where I couldn't really move around too much. I had a little scooter to move around. It was not fun."

The 38-year-old broke his left ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL Championship Series opener against Detroit on Oct. 1, and had surgery a week later. He could start running on a field in the next couple of days and expects to be ready for Opening Day against Boston on April 1.

"Why wouldn't it be realistic?" Jeter said. "I'm right where I'm supposed to be. Opening Day, yeah, it's been a goal all along."

Wearing jeans and a dark shirt, Jeter met with reporters in the pavilion behind the third-base stands at Steinbrenner Field.

"I don't want to make it seem more dramatic than it is, but you've got to learn to walk again," Jeter said.

Jeter had a resurgent season, leading the American League with 216 hits and batting .316 with 15 homers and 58 RBI. He first injured his ankle in mid-September and then fouled balls off his foot several times after that.

"I hurt it, I continued to play on it probably when I shouldn't have," Jeter said. "Initially a bone bruise that progressed from there. Eventually, it turned into a stress fracture and broke. I was told I was able to play, so I played. Unfortunately it broke, but I'd do the same thing over again if I had to."

He remembered trying to glove Jhonny Peralta's 12th-inning grounder up the middle as the Yankees tried to keep the score tied after they rallied for four runs in the ninth.

"I wasn't making any awkward movements," Jeter said. "It was just a couple steps to my left, but it already developed into a stress fracture. So, if it didn't happen on that particular play, it would have happened eventually anyway. So, it's just the point where it broke."

Jeter says the ankle has healed, and that the challenge is to get back into baseball shape.

"I'm going to have to push myself," Jeter said. "From inactivity, it's going to be a while to get the rest of your body in shape. But in terms of the ankle, I'm not concerned with that at all."

A plate and screws placed into the ankle during surgery.

"I guess you can take them out, if you really want to take them out, but I've been told there's no need to take them out, so they're going to stay," Jeter said. "Range of motion, I pretty much have it all back now."

The 13-time All-Star thinks he will play in his first exhibition game in a few weeks. Manager Joe Girardi said Jeter will likely DH in his initial spring-training games.

Noteworthy * 

Calling his recent drunken-driving arrest a "monumental mistake," Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton fought tears as he apologized and asked for forgiveness at the start of spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. Helton was arrested Feb. 6 on charges of DUI and careless driving in a Denver suburb.

"Obviously the last place I want to be on the first day of spring training is here talking about a mistake I made," Helton said. "Last week I got behind the wheel of my truck after I had drank. All I can do now is apologize and ask for forgiveness. I spoke to my teammates today and they were very supportive . . . I am determined to learn from my mistakes, and I've gotten help."

* Baseball is set to finish its first arbitration shutout since the process began in 1974. No cases have been argued before three-person panels after 133 players filed for arbitration last month. Only one remains scheduled for a hearing - and those sides already have a deal in place. Baltimore relief pitcher Darren O'Day has an agreement on a 2-year, $5.8 million contract that is pending a physical.

* Oakland leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes arrived at spring training in Phoenix, determined to build on a strong rookie season.

The 27-year-old Cuban defector also discussed how late last season he worried constantly about the safety of his family members in the Dominican Republic. He wasn't sure whether they might be targeted because of his legal issues stemming from a former agent who claims the outfielder owes him money, he revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle late last month. His mother is now safe elsewhere.

"It weighed on my mind sometimes, yes. I tried to be focused every single day and not let it be a problem and keep me from playing baseball hard," Cespedes said.

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