Infield coach on Derek Jeter: 'We're going to go real slow'

Derek Jeter fields ground balls during spring training

Derek Jeter fields ground balls during spring training at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

TAMPA, Fla. -- As his team went through infield drills during its first full-squad workout Monday, Joe Girardi didn't stray far from shortstop.

That was where Derek Jeter went about his work, participating in his most active day to date in his rehab from a broken left ankle that all expect will have him ready for Opening Day.

But that push was best described by first-base coach Mick Kelleher, also the infield coach. "We're going to go real slow," he said after the workout.

So Jeter, by his estimation "a couple of weeks behind," did not stretch with the team or engage in the light running when the Yankees took the field. He did his own doctor-prescribed stretching routine inside.

Jeter came out to throw with Robinson Cano before heading to short, where he took grounders on the infield grass.

Jeter eventually backed up to the dirt, a first in his rehab, but did not move laterally. He also worked on double-play balls in a 25-minute session, then took a full round of batting practice.

"[Moving] laterally, putting weight on the ankle, crossing over, we'll just have to take our time on that," said Kelleher, who stood near Jeter in the field. "But going forward, he didn't seem to have any problems at all, so I thought it was great."

Jeter said his leg and ankle "feel fine" but added that "everything else" feels rough, joking about normal soreness for his various 38-year-old body parts.

"Neck, shoulder, my back, calves," he said. "Just getting in shape in general. But you talk to guys who worked out all offseason, first week of spring training, they're sore."

Jeter said he has no timetable for when he might run, but Girardi's message is simple: no rush.

"I think he understands this is going to take time," Girardi said. "We have 42 days until Opening Day. We have a long time."

Jeter joked with reporters that he might make a last-minute decision to play in the World Baseball Classic.

"If everything goes good tomorrow, I'm cleared to go play in the WBC," he said.

Jeter said it is disappointing not to be able to play, especially with Joe Torre managing and being helped by former Yankees coach Larry Bowa and longtime trainer Gene Monahan, who retired after the 2011 season.

"I enjoyed my experience in the WBC. I had fun doing it," said Jeter, who played in 2006 and 2009. "I would have loved to have done it, but unfortunately, I can't."

Notes & quotes: Ichiro Suzuki, signed to a surprising two-year deal, had other suitors during the offseason. But the 39-year-old, who hit .322 with a .340 OBP in 67 games with the Yankees after being acquired July 23, said once he heard "the Yankees needed me," there was no reason to weigh other offers. "We only have one goal here, and that's to win," he said . . . Eduardo Nuñez, who has had his share of troubles in the field, did not have a good first day, making several throwing errors . . . Travis Hafner hit the first home run of batting practice, a monstrous shot to right that nearly left the stadium.

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