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Healing Jeter cleared for rehab assignment

Yankees' All-Star shortstop aims for second-half return from ankle woes

NEW YORK -- After spending the better part of eight months recovering from a fractured left ankle suffered in the American League Championship Series last season, Derek Jeter is finally nearing a return to action.

The Yankees' captain will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday in a game that you can watch live on MiLB.TV. He's scheduled to play five innings at shortstop in the RailRiders' 7:05 p.m. ET game against Lehigh Valley. He will have 20 days to complete his rehab assignment.

"It's really good news. It obviously means his ankle feels a lot better," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been dying to get out there since Spring Training, and he's had some setbacks, but this is a really good sign."

Girardi said he will be looking to see how Jeter handles playing on consecutive days, and he wouldn't speculate on when the shortstop could return to the Yankees. Jeter has to be "comfortable playing," Girardi said, and he won't know until he sees him play in a few games.

"I think we'll have our people watching him, because he'd be here tomorrow if it was up to him," Girardi said, laughing. "He'd tell us he feels great at the plate."

Jeter initially suffered the injury in Game 1 of the ALCS on Oct. 13. He played in five Spring Training games after undergoing offseason surgery, but he was sidelined again after feeling discomfort in the ankle. Doctors found a second break in his ankle on April 18, and he hasn't played a game since then.

The shortstop has been working out at the Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., taking simulated at-bats and doing fielding drills. He ran the bases for the first time on Monday, and he told The Associated Press on Thursday that he was "anxious to be playing in games."

"It's a long process. I've been doing this pretty much since November, December," Jeter said on June 22. "I'm over it now. It's just too long. The process has been too long."

Jeter could return to the Yankees around the same time third baseman Alex Rodriguez does. Rodriguez played two rehab games for Class A Charleston this week, and he was scheduled to play in a rehab game for Class A Tampa on Friday before it was rained out.

There's still no timetable for the return of either player, though.

"Those guys will be ready when they're ready. That's it," general manager Brian Cashman said. "We're not going to drop them into the deep end of the pool until they're physically ready to do it."

"You got to make sure they're here before you actually pencil them in, but I know they're both anxious to get back," Girardi said.

Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for
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