Derek Jeter disappointed about reality of missing Opening Day

Derek Jeter takes questions from the media during

Derek Jeter takes questions from the media during an event for his Turn 2 Foundation at Yankee Stadium. (Dec. 5, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

TAMPA, Fla. - Derek Jeter has been known to fight tooth and nail to avoid stints on the disabled list.

Not so this time, as the shortstop Tuesday seemed resigned to the fact that's where he'll start 2013.

And no one can say for certain when he'll be coming off it.

"Pretty much," Jeter said. "Looks like that's what's going to happen."

Jeter, since undergoing surgery on his broken left ankle last Oct. 20, consistently maintained he would be ready by the season opener April 1 against the Red Sox at the Stadium.

"Of course it's disappointing," Jeter said. "I told you guys all along my goal is to be ready by Opening Day and I didn't reach it."

Jeter's rehab had sailed along since October, with the first signs of trouble cropping up March 19, when the 38-year-old shortstop was a last-minute scratch from that day's game against the Phillies in Clearwater because of "stiffness" in the ankle.

He has not played in a spring game since, his baseball activity workload significantly decreased in that time. He has been off the last four days and won't do anything Wednesday, according to manager Joe Girardi, who said the team would "slow it down" a bit with Jeter.

"Then we'll try to get him back out," Girardi said. "Derek's the kind of guy that we really pushed to get to where he could play Opening Day and it just didn't work out. We're going to take a deep breath here and try and get him back on the field in a couple of days, where he feels good. He's going to experience some of the soreness but we think it was probably too much to have him on the field."

General manager Brian Cashman said Sunday Jeter was likely to start the season on the DL.

Jeter has been hesitant to use the word "setback" in describing his situation. He said doctors all along have told him a certain amount of soreness in the surgically repaired ankle was to be expected.

"I told you guys before, it's what is supposed to happen," Jeter said. "Heard from the doc yesterday, it's supposed to happen. Some things you can't control. Everyone talks about setback . . . I mean it's a setback for Opening Day being ready, but it's not a setback in terms of the recovery process because that's what's supposed to happen."

Jeter did not discount the possibility that he pushed the ankle too hard in trying to be ready for the opener. "I don't know," he said.

But he quickly added, "I would have done the exact same thing," again mentioning soreness was part of the recovery process.

"It's just that I ran out of days in terms of Opening Day," Jeter said.

Girardi also couldn't say whether Jeter overdid it.

"I don't know if he pushed himself too hard but he was determined to get out there and I think what he realized was it just wasn't enough time," Girardi said. "And as a player, a lot of times you really don't know until you actually try. But he pushed."

The Yankees decided last week any games Jeter plays the remainder of spring training will be minor league ones, allowing the club to backdate his DL stay to March 22. Jeter said his expectation is he'll be ready when he's eligible to come off the DL April 6 but repeated a caveat from late last week.

"I'm going to stop putting dates on it," he said.

As for being in New York for the pomp and circumstance of the season opener, Jeter said he'd like to be there but hinted he may not be.

"Whatever gets me ready to play the soonest," he said. "If it calls for me to be here [in Tampa] to do stuff to get ready to play sooner, I will stay here and get ready to play sooner."

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