Derek Jeter closes book on rehab games: 'I feel really good'

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reacts after making contact

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reacts after making contact during a rehab start with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. (Aug. 23, 2013) (Credit: AP/The Citizens' Voice)

MOOSIC, Pa. - Derek Jeter now can focus on what he said his one goal with the Yankees is every season: help the team get to the playoffs.

"That's what it is each and every year. Winning games is what I'm focused on right now," said Jeter, who went 1-for-3 with a single Saturday night in the final game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Jeter will have a day off Sunday after playing seven innings in the RailRiders' 5-4, 10-inning loss to Pawtucket at PNC Field before a crowd of 9,595.

On the disabled list since Aug. 5 because of a right calf strain, Jeter said he was told by the Yankees that he will rejoin them Monday in Toronto.

In three games with Scranton, Jeter went 3-for-9 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. He was at shortstop and batted second in all three games. He played seven innings the past two nights after playing five innings Thursday.

"I feel really good," Jeter said. "My body feels fine. I've felt good since I've been here."

After two straight nights of facing pitchers who threw knuckleballs, Jeter experienced some normalcy against righthander Clayton Mortensen.

Jeter -- who left the ballpark last night without talking to the media -- grounded out to second in his first at-bat and grounded to shortstop in his second. After hitting a single to leftfield in the sixth inning in his third and final at-bat, Jeter went from first to third on a single by Dan Johnson. As Jeter slid into third, Johnson was tagged out at second as he attempted to stretch the hit into a double.

There were no balls hit toward Jeter on Saturday night.

Jeter, 39, has had the majority of his season robbed because of ankle, quadriceps and calf injuries. He's 4-for-19 with a home run with the Yankees.

After breaking his left ankle in the postseason last October, Jeter vowed to be ready by Opening Day, but that didn't happen. After breaking the same ankle during spring training, he tweaked a quad in his first game back last month. Then, despite not running at full speed, he strained his right calf and at that point referred to the season as a "nightmare."

After two straight losses to Tampa Bay, the Yankees (68-61) are seven games behind the AL East-leading Rays and Red Sox and 41/2 games behind Oakland, which currently owns the second wild-card berth.

"It's quite simple," Jeter said in his usual understated way when asked what the Yankees need to do to claim a spot in the playoffs. "We have to score more runs than the other team. We have to play well and beat the teams we play. We can't think about four or six weeks from now."

When Jeter is activated Monday, he'll play on synthetic turf at Rogers Centre, but he said that's not something that troubles him despite the injuries. "I don't think you can play cautiously," Jeter said. "You just play, so I'm not worried about it. I'm really not worried about it."

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