Joe Girardi doesn't speak in absolutes. One of his favorite phrases is "I don't ever say anything is 100 percent."
And so when it comes to Derek Jeter, coming off surgery to repair a fractured left ankle, Girardi hedged a little when asked if he is certain the shortstop will be ready by Opening Day.
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"I think there's a little bit of a question," Girardi said Thursday morning at the Stadium.
He quickly added: "But I think he'll find a way. That's who he is."
Jeter, 38, suffered the injury in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers and had surgery Oct. 20 in Charlotte, N.C.
He will be in a non-weight-bearing cast until early January. In past offseasons, that's when he has shown up at the team's minor-league complex in Tampa, where he lives, to work out.
"Because of the rehab and you have to get the full strength and maybe you're not able to start doing the things you normally would in January," said Girardi, speaking at a USO event at the Stadium, where he helped in assembling care packages that will be shipped to troops serving in Afghanistan. "But like I said, I think he'll find a way."
Girardi said he's spoken to Jeter a couple of times since the end of the season.
"I think his mood's OK," he said. "But I've always said, you spend all year long playing for eight, nine months and you look forward to the offseason to be able to relax and do some of the things you want, and he's not going to be able to have that this year because he's going to have a lot of rehab. So I'm sure from that standpoint, it's a little bit frustrating, but Derek always finds a way to deal with what he's going through."
"I think Andy wants to play. That's my feeling from what I saw last year," he said. "But there are family decisions that he has to make."
As for the big news of the week, the blockbuster deal between the Blue Jays and the Marlins, Girardi said there's no question that Toronto -- which will land Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck -- "definitely improved."
David Cone, who also was at the USO event, went a step further.
"They see the AL East ripe for the picking," Cone said. "I would think they'd have to be the favorite, right now, in the American League East."