Derek Jeter had surgery on his fractured left ankle Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., with the operation performed by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.
And although the prognosis for a full recovery takes things up close to next April, an expert said he sees the shortstop being ready by Opening Day with time to spare.
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"I think that's a reasonable goal, assuming everything goes smoothly," said Dr. Steven Weinfeld, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of foot and ankle service at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Most patients can start running activities at three months."
After that game, the Yankees gave an initial recovery period of two to three months but altered it to four to five months after announcing last week that Jeter would have surgery.
Weinfeld, stressing that he had not seen Jeter's X-rays and was offering an opinion, said a possible reason for the timetable change could have been if further tests showed something other than just a break.
"The thing that takes longer, that might have caused the timetable to get greater. When you have an ankle fracture, you have a boney injury and sometimes you have a boney injury combined with a ligament injury," Weinfeld said. "It's the ligament injury that may prolong the course of recovery. They may have diagnosed a ligamentous injury at some point later on that may have changed the timetable."
Weinfeld said that after that kind of surgery, a patient typically would be in a non-weight-bearing cast for about six weeks and that "impact activities" such as running would occur at the three-month point, which would be around Jan. 20.
Cashman and Joe Girardi have said they suspect that Jeter's injury, which occurred on a freak play, came as a result of an already weakened ankle. Though he was loath to talk about it, Jeter played the final month of the regular season on a sore left ankle and fouled a ball off the top of that foot early in the postseason.
"I don't think he had a fracture before the injury, but I had seen he fouled a ball pretty hard off his foot a few days before," Weinfeld said. "Certainly if his foot was sore, if his ankle was sore, it could affect the way he moves and the way his foot plants on the ground when he does try and move laterally. So even that little bit of shift in his normal footwork could have contributed to this . . . If his leg or foot was bothering him and he even slightly changes the way that he moves toward the ball, that could have set him up for something like this."