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Jeter takes batting practice, ground balls at Stadium

NEW YORK -- Looking to break up the monotonous process of rehabilitating his left ankle, Derek Jeter returned to Yankee Stadium on Saturday to take batting practice and be with the team.

Jeter, who's been working out at the Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., said he's been doing everything except for running and sprinting outside. But he said he "assumes" that's the next step in the process.

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Other than that, though, there aren't any problems that have crept up during his rehab.

"I feel good," Jeter said. "Everything's been going as good as it can go up to this point."

Jeter said he's been able to do exercises without bearing weight on his ankle, so that's allowed him to maintain his leg strength.

Before New York's game against Tampa Bay on Saturday, Jeter took batting practice and hit line drives to all fields. Once he finished that, he took some ground balls.

While the Yankees are encouraged to see his rehab process progressing so well, it's nothing but a long, arduous time away from the team for Jeter.

"It's not fun," Jeter said. "It's a long process. I've been doing this pretty much since November, December. I'm over it now. It's just too long. The process has been too long."

Jeter will return to Tampa on Sunday.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it's good to have Jeter around the clubhouse for both he and the team.

"I think it's important," Girardi said. "Derek's been a leader for a long time here, and with Derek, it's all about winning games. I also think it's important for him to be around the team, because sometimes when you get stuck in Tampa for a while, it seems like you're so far away."

The plan for the Yankees has always been to activate Jeter so he can play shortstop, and not just be a designated hitter. Despite the team's recent offensive struggles, that plan hasn't changed.

"Our plan is to get him back as a shortstop," Girardi said, "and that's what he's working toward."

Chris Iseman, Josh Vitale and David Wilson are associate reporters for

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter