Derek Jeter takes 32 swings, sprints for second day in row

Derek Jeter stands at first base after passing Derek Jeter stands at first base after passing Willie Mays for 10th all-time on baseball's hit list with No. 3,284 in his career. (Sept. 14, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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CLEVELAND -- A day later, Derek Jeter was in the clear. At least insofar as his next step in what has been a prolonged rehab process.

"He did all his stuff today, so it was good,'' Joe Girardi said.

Jeter ran sprints for a second straight day Wednesday at the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla., and for the first time since his setback March 23, he hit outside. Jeter took 32 swings, although Girardi was most encouraged that the 38-year-old shortstop's surgically repaired left ankle allowed him to run on consecutive days.

"The fact that he didn't have to back off from the running, I think is a good sign,'' Girardi said, adding it was his understanding that Jeter would be off Thursday. "It will be interesting to see how he feels [today].''

Girardi spoke before last night's game against the Indians was rained out. Phil Hughes will start Thursday night, as scheduled, and Ivan Nova, Wednesday night's's scheduled starter, will shift to the bullpen before his next turn in the rotation comes up. No makeup date was announced, but the teams have a common off day May 13.

Jeter took 45 grounders at shortstop Wednesday and threw to first base for the first time this month. He also ran just behind the infield dirt, according to The Associated Press, going first to third and back again.

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Jeter still has not run at 100 percent but clearly is making progress. He has not played since appearing March 23 in a minor-league spring training game. He was removed from that game, in which he was the designated hitter, when the ankle didn't respond as hoped.

The Yankees shut him down soon afterward and announced he would not be ready for Opening Day. After accepting that, Jeter stopped giving dates for when he might return, as did general manager Brian Cashman and Girardi.

Jeter broke his left ankle last Oct. 13 during Game 1 of the ALCS and underwent surgery a week later. At the time, he and the organization said there was no reason to anticipate he would be anywhere but at shortstop April 1 for the season opener.

All indications for more than three months after the surgery suggested that goal would be met.

But Jeter didn't make his spring training debut until March 9 and played only five games before being scratched with ankle "stiffness'' 10 days later.

In the March 23 game Jeter labored noticeably on the bases and was shut down from all activities for more than a week. When he finally did return to the minor-league complex, all he did the first three days was play catch and long toss.

Last week, Girardi said Jeter likely would have to go through a mini-spring training before being ready for a major-league game.

"I think so,''' Girardi said then. "I don't think you can say play him three or four games and you're going to be back.''

Girardi said he didn't necessarily think the de facto spring training would be the typical six weeks.

But he had no date in mind, either.

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"Position players always tell you they don't need six weeks, pitchers do,'' Girardi said. "How many weeks he needs, I think it depends on how he bounces back each day when he goes out and plays.''

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