DETROIT -- Derek Jeter will undergo ankle surgery that will sideline him for up to five months, meaning that the Yankees captain may not be ready to play until the latter stages of next season's spring training.
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"My understanding is that it's possible he will be ready earlier than that time frame," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday night. "But it is best to at least put out there four, five months as a safer bet."
Initially, the team estimated that Jeter would be down for two to three months. However, the foot specialist who will perform surgery on Jeter revised the time frame for a return. Cashman insisted that the new estimate was not an indication of complications from the injury, which the club has officially termed a fractured left ankle.
Said Cashman: "[There's] nothing seen worse than what our team doctor saw."
Jeter's surgery is set for Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., and will be performed by foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. At the latest, Jeter is expected to be ready for game action in late March, meaning he's still a possibility to start on Opening Day.
In the meantime, Eduardo Nuñez and Jayson Nix have stepped in since Jeter suffered the fracture in Game 1 of the ALCS. Jeter, 38, had been one of the few productive Yankees bats in the postseason. Before his injury, Jeter hit .333 for the punchless Yankees.
Cashman expressed little interest in acquiring another shortstop as insurance in Jeter's absence. "I haven't looked at that at this stage," Cashman said. "We do have Eduardo Nuñez, we have Jayson Nix. So it's not something we're focused on. And I wouldn't think that's something I would gravitate to."
If Jeter experiences complications recovering from his injuries, Nuñez appears positioned to offer the Yankees an alternative in his absence. Though he has been error-prone in the field -- he has committed 28 in parts of three big-league seasons -- he is still viewed as an asset within the organization because of his bat and speed.
Also, the Yankees believe Nuñez benefited from the club's decision to limit his defensive play to shortstop. He previously had been used as a super-utility player, which the Yankees believe contributed to his defensive struggles.
Another factor in Nuñez's favor may be cost. The 25-year-old won't be up for salary arbitration until 2014 at the earliest, making him a low-cost fill-in as the Yankees aim to hold payroll below $189 million.
Nuñez flashed some of his offensive potential in Game 3. On Tuesday night, Nunez rewarded manager Joe Girardi for allowing him to hit leading off the ninth inning, with both Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez on the bench and the Yankees trailing by two runs. Nuñez drilled a homer off Justin Verlander for the Yankees' only run.