Derek Jeter's one-and-done return to the Yankees could result in a much longer absence after he was diagnosed Friday with a Grade I strain of his right quad. But for now, the Yankees will hold off on the disabled list in the hope that Jeter can heal during the All-Star break and rejoin the team July 19 when the second half begins in Boston.
"We're going to wait and see," Brian Cashman said before Friday night's game against the Twins. "I know Derek wants to take the extra time. And certainly the best-case scenario would be that things resolve rather quickly. But we also have to be careful with it."
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Jeter's MRI revealed the least severe type of strain -- Grade III is the worst. But the Yankees know they need to be conservative with their 39-year-old shortstop, both for his age and the potential limitations of coming back from a twice-fractured ankle.
If Jeter still is not ready a week from now, the Yankees can backdate his DL stint to Thursday, which would enable him to return July 28, at the earliest. In the meantime, the Yankees must finish the first half with a shorthanded roster.
That didn't seem to faze Joe Girardi, who has grown accustomed to dealing with more than his usual share of injuries. The manager described Jeter as "feisty" after getting the news. He did not show up in the clubhouse while reporters were present, but issued a statement.
"It's frustrating," Jeter said. "I don't know what else you want me to say. I worked hard to get to the point of rejoining the team [Thursday]. It's not how you draw it up, but hopefully, I'll be back out there soon and help this team win some games."
Jeter did his part Thursday to help the Yankees beat the Royals in an emotional homecoming for The Captain, but it came at a steep cost. Batting second as the DH, Jeter went 1-for-4 with an infield single, scored one run and drove in another. He was hurt in the fifth inning trying to beat out one of his four grounders.
Cashman was second-guessing himself to some degree for promoting Jeter a day earlier than originally planned. But after Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner were removed Wednesday with minor ailments, the general manager didn't see any harm in having Jeter DH for the Yankees on Thursday rather than performing the same duty at Triple-A Scranton.
"He said he was ready. I had people in the stands tell me he looked ready," Cashman said. "I had a comfort level that it would be fine. But if it wasn't fine, that's my responsibility."
Jeter easily could have been hurt doing the same thing in Scranton and Cashman believed the Yankees were protecting him with DH duty. But the GM now has a better understanding that Jeter is going to require some special consideration as he tries to adjust to the majors again.
"I don't want to say it's Father Time knocking on his door as much as he really is coming back from something significant," Cashman said. "If everything is not in line [running], it makes you more susceptible, especially when you go ask for that extra from your tank."
Cashman suggested this injury could be a byproduct of compensating for his recovering left ankle, and if that's the case, it's likely to be an area of concern for the rest of this season, as well as the remainder of Jeter's career. That became painfully evident to anyone who watched his first game on Thursday.
"I figured he'd come back and I'd have to spell him here and there like I did last year and have to be smart about it," Girardi said. "But I didn't expect this to happen. I think this will heal fine and he will be fine. But I don't think he's a guy you can run out there 40 or 50 days in a row like you used to. You're going to have to manage that."