Derek Jeter placed on disabled list, ending his season
BALTIMORE -- Even Derek Jeter was given to gallows humor.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the 39-year-old shortstop yesterday afternoon that he was being put on the disabled list, effectively ending Jeter's injury-plagued season.
"The entire year has been pretty much a nightmare for me physically, so I guess it's fitting that it ends like this, huh?'' Jeter said about 1½ hours later.
His surgically repaired left ankle never did gain the strength necessary to survive the daily pounding a shortstop endures. Naturally, many of the questions in the wake of Cashman's announcement revolved around the possibility that Jeter has played the final game of a Hall of Fame career that began in 1995.
"No, I do not believe that, I really do not believe that,'' Cashman said. "And as hard as this discussion topic is about his season being over, I have not watched his last game. No one has.''
Faced with a barrage of such questions, Jeter, limited to 17 games this season because of ankle, quadriceps and calf injuries, cracked another smile.
"There's a lot of 'end' talk here, man,'' he said. "You guys want this to be the end for me? Have I thought about it? No. I don't think you think about the end of anything.
" . . . It's bad that I've had this year, it's been a nightmare like I said, but you don't just start thinking about the end just because you have to deal with an injury.''
Joe Girardi didn't sound as sure about the future, although he declined to publicly doubt the shortstop.
"There are no guarantees,'' Girardi said. "But I don't doubt Derek because of who he is. I've seen him do this over and over.''
Jeter has a player option for $9.5 million for 2014 that he's expected to pick up. He called the news Cashman gave him "very disappointing,'' but it didn't surprise him.
Not with his obvious limitations in the field and running the bases; not with the consistent pain, a word Jeter rarely uses but has used to describe his ankle, felt on a daily basis.
Asked why he didn't fight the decision to put him on the disabled list, Jeter said, "If you can't play the way you're capable of playing, then you're not helping out.''
"Obviously, a huge loss for us,'' said Alex Rodriguez, who was the DH Wednesday night after leaving Tuesday's game with a tweaked left hamstring. "The fact that he has been hanging around with the team, we have been benefiting from his leadership. Tough blow, though.''
Cashman said the decision was made after consulting Tuesday night with Jeter's surgeon, Robert Anderson, who evaluated the CT scan taken of the shortstop's ankle Saturday. Anderson agreed with the evaluation made by Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad that the scan showed no further damage, but emphasized that the ankle wouldn't improve with a handful of days off.
Cashman relayed Anderson's comments.
"[He said] 'he has pain and it's most likely stemming from the weakness surrounding the bone, which is muscles, tendons and ligaments, and that's not going to solve itself any time soon and he will be vulnerable.' "
Said Cashman: "Just like earlier he pulled the quad, something's going to give at some point the more we run him out there. So we feel it's best to shut him down and just let him prepare for next year and that's the safest thing to do."
Jeter suffered the broken ankle during Game 1 of last year's ALCS against the Tigers.
The prognosis from all involved had him being ready by Opening Day, but Jeter suffered a setback with the ankle late in the spring and didn't debut until July 11 against the Royals. That afternoon Jeter suffered a Grade 1 right quadriceps strain that kept him out until July 28. He landed on the DL again Aug. 3 with a right calf strain and didn't return until Aug. 26.
At no point did he look comfortable moving on the left ankle. His last game turned out to be Saturday, when he was removed by Girardi, who didn't think Jeter looked "comfortable'' running.
Jeter's hope is that an entire offseason given to training and strengthening his legs will get him ready for 2014.
"That's the key, to get the opportunity to have a normal offseason in terms of physically having an offseason to work out and strengthen things, which I was unable to do for obvious reasons,'' Jeter said. "There's no doubt in my mind I'll be back to where I was.''
With David Lennon