Derek Jeter: I'll be ready for Opening Day

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees warms

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees warms up before Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. (Oct. 13, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter doesn't see himself being ready for the Yankees' first spring training game Feb. 23.

Then again, that's not the idea. April 1, Opening Day is, and Jeter said there's no doubt he'll be set to go then.

"The goal is April 1. That's when we start the season," Jeter said Monday morning after a workout at the Yankees' minor-league complex. "I'm right where I need to be. I'm progressing right where I need to be."

Jeter worked in the batting cage for about a half-hour before heading to the field and taking 55 grounders on the infield grass.

Jeter broke his left ankle going after a ground ball in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers on Oct. 13 and had surgery a week later. Eight days ago, he did on-field work for the first time since the surgery.

The 38-year-old shortstop hasn't started running, a step he expects to take around the club's first full-squad workout Feb. 18.

"You have to progress and I've been progressing just fine," said Jeter, who rolled down the window of his car to talk to a small group of reporters outside the facility.

Jeter said he's not behind with his baseball activity. Rehabbing or not, this is what he's done in the past at this time of year.

"When I start baseball activities, I always do what I just did right there," he said. "The first week or two, I don't get off the grass, I stay right there. Even if I could run now and I got the green light to do absolutely everything, I would have done the same thing I did today. It's all a progression, and right now I'm where I should be."

It's been an eventful offseason for Jeter, starting with his surgery and followed a little more than a month later by published photos purporting to show him as overweight. Jeter, whose conditioning never has been called into question, had fun with that story. He smiled Monday when asked about another common issue this offseason: the Yankees' aging roster.

"If you want to make it a positive, they say how experienced we are; someone wants to make it sound another way, it's we're old," Jeter said. "I like to think we're experienced . . . It's our job. Regardless of how old anyone is, our job is to come here to be ready to play and help us compete. And we've been able to do that pretty successfully throughout the years, and our plans don't change."

Notes & quotes: Among the other players working out at the complex Monday: pitchers Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and Manny Banuelos, the organization's top pitching prospect, who is out for the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Pineda, recovering from shoulder surgery, started throwing off a half-mound last week.

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