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Jeter will be kept out of MLB spring games

Decision made with eye toward possible backdated DL stint for Yankees captain

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter will not appear in another Grapefruit League game this spring, according to general manager Brian Cashman, because the Yankees want to be able to backdate his injury if the shortstop must begin the season on the disabled list.

Jeter will be limited to playing in Minor League games for the remainder of the Yankees' time in Spring Training. Jeter is hopeful that he will be able to play on Opening Day, but if not, the Yankees can set the captain's earliest return for April 6, when the Yankees play at Detroit.

"I think we need to preserve the ability to backdate him in the event that he's not going to make it," Cashman said Thursday.

Teams can backdate the disabled-list assignments of injured players to a date 10 days prior to the season opener. If that were to happen in Jeter's case, he would be eligible to be activated after being out the first five days (four games) of the season.

Jeter, 38, had a cortisone injection in his surgically repaired left ankle on Wednesday and is expected to be unable to play for at least a few days, though he said on Thursday that if this were the regular season, he'd fight to be in the lineup.

"If it ain't broke, you can play," Jeter said. "So yeah, if I had to play, I would play."

Cashman said that "it's possible" Jeter will be ready for Opening Day. Jeter said that he believes the injection has helped the general soreness he felt near the front of the ankle, and that he has been assured what he is experiencing is normal.

"I wouldn't call it a setback," Jeter said. "It's what's supposed to happen. That's what I've been told. The last couple of days I talked to the doc, and he said it's supposed to happen. It's all normal. Everything is fine. Ligaments, bone, everything is perfect. It's just, that's what happens after you have surgery."

Jeter said that "nothing has changed" regarding his intention to be in the Yankees' lineup on April 1, when the club opens the regular season against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

"That's our hope," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think what happens in the next week or so is going to determine that, but our hope is that we can get him out [Friday], go through some work, and he feels good.

Jeter said he believes he will be back on the field for baseball activities on Friday and said that he does not necessarily need to play nine full innings in Florida -- something he has yet to do -- just to prove he will be able to do it in New York.

"Five innings, nine innings, I don't think it really makes a difference," Jeter said. "If you're out there, you can play nine innings. It's not like in the sixth inning you start getting tired.

"It's not basketball or running around a track. It's baseball. I don't think I've played nine innings in a Spring Training game in years, anyway, so I don't really think that makes a difference."

The Yankees have not had an Opening Day without Jeter at shortstop since 2001, when Luis Sojo filled in while Jeter mended a strained quadriceps on the disabled list. Jeter said that he would be disappointed if he is forced to miss this season's opener.

"Of course. I'm disappointed whenever I don't play," Jeter said. "You guys know that. My job is to try and be ready on Opening Day, and that's what I'm going to continue to do."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for
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