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Back on field, Jeter's rehab takes step forward

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter ran on the field Thursday for the first time since re-injuring his surgically repaired left ankle, a big step forward in his recovery.

Jeter, who fractured his ankle in Game 1 of the 2012 American League Championship Series, hasn't played in a game since Spring Training and doesn't know how far he is from advancing to Minor League rehab games. But he passed another checkpoint Thursday, running outdoors at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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"It felt fine. Everything's good," Jeter said. "No problems whatsoever."

Jeter also fielded ground balls at shortstop alongside third baseman Alex Rodriguez and continued to hit Thursday. The next hurdle he'll have to clear, Jeter said, will be running the bases. He will likely have to go through several smaller steps to reach that point, but once he runs the bases, a rehab assignment shouldn't be too far away.

The 39-year-old was unsure Thursday how long he'll have to wait to do either, however.

"It's a constant progression, and that's the last step. I've done everything else," Jeter said. "So hopefully I'll be able to run the bases soon. I don't know when that is, when they tell me. Like I said, I go day to day."

Jeter reiterated his desire to rejoin the Yankees "as soon as possible." It was his understanding that he won't require any more appointments with his surgeon, meaning it's up to the team's training staff to give him the green light going forward.

The Yankees' captain smiled as he said he can "always see the light" at the end of the tunnel. He and the Yankees have declined to set a goal for his return, instead saying he'll be back sometime after the All-Star break, but Jeter seemed pleased with the step he took Thursday.

"You've got to run. You've got to run the bases. That's probably the last step," Jeter said. "I don't know what the progression is in terms of when that happens, but I started running today."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter