MOOSIC, Pa. - Derek Jeter ranged a few steps to his left, scooped a routine grounder and made a short flip to second for a forceout to end the fifth inning. He then jogged off the field.
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For the Yankees, the sellout crowd at PNC Field and Jeter, it was all they could have asked for -- the hint of a return to normalcy.
"I feel fine," Jeter said Saturday night after playing five innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, his first game action since suffering a second ankle fracture in April. "I didn't do much. This may be the first time I've gotten a standing ovation for grounding out."
Jeter, batting leadoff for the RailRiders, went 0-for-2 with a walk and was tested only once at shortstop. He insisted he was pain-free and needed only to ice the ankle after the game. "But that's normal," he said.
Jeter, 39, said he will be the designated hitter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Sunday's 1 p.m. home game.
"If they based it on what I told them,'' he quipped, "I'd be playing [in the Bronx] today.''
Jeter broke his left ankle while fielding a ground ball during the American League Championship Series last October and had surgery soon after. He was expected to be ready for Opening Day, but after he played in five spring training games, it was discovered that he had broken the ankle in a new area.
Jeter now is fully healed, Yankees officials said, and he was cleared Friday to begin a rehab stint in the minors. General manager Brian Cashman didn't rule out the possibility that he will return to the Yankees during their current 10-game homestand.
"As long as it doesn't break again, I'm good,'' Jeter said with a chuckle. "That's what I'm looking for -- for it to not break again.''
Jeter successfully completed the preliminary phases of his rehab, going through simulated games in Tampa. Now he must prove that his health and stamina will allow him to compete in actual games.
"I was a little nervous," he said after playing before the capacity crowd of 10,000. "I really haven't played much in nine months. But outside of that, everything went well."
He drew a five-pitch walk in the first inning and lined out to second base in the third. Jeter said he felt "pretty good" running to first on a groundout to third in the fourth inning.
This also was a rehab game for pitcher Michael Pineda, who made his fifth start of a 30-day assignment coming off last year's shoulder surgery. The righthander's control was shaky but his fastball sat between 92-94 mph. In five innings, he allowed two runs, four hits and two walks, striking out seven.
But the focus clearly was on Jeter, the iconic 13-time All-Star. The Yankees have cycled through five shortstops in his absence this season.
"It's been frustrating because I've never missed this much time," Jeter said. "I want to play, and I'm glad that I'm getting closer to that."