ARLINGTON, Texas - Derek Jeter could very well be back in the lineup Saturday.

The shortstop, on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps, ran the bases a day earlier than expected, doing so before the Yankees' 2-0 victory over the Rangers Thursday.

"I don't feel it,'' Jeter said, "so that's good.''

Joe Girardi, who in recent days seemed to downplay the possibility of Jeter coming back Saturday -- the first day he's eligible to come off the DL -- took a slightly more optimistic tone after Thursday's game.

"Good reports,'' Girardi said. "I watched him. He'll run [Friday]. He'll see the doctor and then we'll go from there.''

Asked about Saturday, Girardi smiled.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I'm not throwing anything out there,'' he said. "I'm not dismissing anything either.''

Jeter certainly isn't. On Wednesday, he said he would "lobby'' to be in the lineup as soon as he's eligible, and he didn't back away from that Thursday.

He said he hasn't felt anything in the quad since "a couple of days'' before his last MRI, which occurred July 18, the day before the Yankees left for Boston to start the seven-game trip that ended Thursday afternoon.

"Whenever they tell me,'' he said of when he thinks he'll play. "I think I can play today. I do what I'm told . . . I feel good. That's the only thing I can say. I don't feel my leg, which is good. Now it's up to them. I don't know what they have planned.''

Before the game, Jeter took a full round of batting practice before running, testing the quad by breaking out of the batter's box and going first-to-third. Jeter also did extensive work in the field, as he did Wednesday.

"I assumed I wouldn't feel anything,'' Jeter said. "It's been two weeks from today [since he suffered the injury], so I assumed I wouldn't feel anything. I went into it thinking I wasn't going to feel anything and I didn't.''

After this weekend's series against the Rays at the Stadium, the Yankees head to the West Coast for five games next week against the Dodgers and Padres -- games in National League parks in which easing Jeter back in at designated hitter will not be an option. But once Jeter is activated, Girardi said he'll be comfortable running him out to short every day in those games.

"I did not see anything that kept him from going to his left or his right, so that was good,'' Girardi said of Jeter's pregame work in the field.

Jeter noted that the Yankees don't have games scheduled on Monday and Thursday.

"We have a lot of days off coming up,'' he said. "No, I'm not concerned about that.''