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Derek Jeter 'more likely than not' to start season on DL

Derek Jeter stretches before a spring training game

Derek Jeter stretches before a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. (March 19, 2013) Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. -- For Derek Jeter, reality has set in. And reality bites.

Jeter will "more likely than not" miss the Yankees' season opener next Monday with continued soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, general manager Brian Cashman said Sunday.

The Yankees have shut down the 38-year-old captain for the second time in a week. The team leaves Florida on Thursday. It would take a miracle for Jeter to not be left behind to start the season on the disabled list -- and he knows it, according to Cashman.

"I've met with Derek Jeter today," Cashman said. "I told him what I think and he didn't fight me on it. That's reality."

Jeter was not available for comment.

"I think that he understands the reality of the situation more today than maybe the other day," Cashman said. "Because he went out there and DH'd in a minor-league game [Saturday] and then [Sunday], lo and behold, he's feeling some more discomfort . . . For me, I'm kind of there already."

Is Jeter?

"I know Derek extremely well," Cashman said. "Obviously, been with him for a long, long time. I can read his face. And his face today tells me the reality of the circumstances is starting to sink in that this disabled-list situation might be necessary."

Before Saturday, Jeter had not played for a week. He had four at-bats at the Yankees' minor-league complex and hoped to do the same Sunday, but it was not to be. It is not known when he will get back on the field.

"The Captain is sore," Cashman said. "I think this continues to tell you it's just not ready yet."

Cashman said "the more realistic goal" is for Jeter to be activated from the DL before the Yankees' fifth game of the season on April 6 in Detroit, when he will first be eligible.

But even that seems optimistic, given that Cashman also said Jeter has to prove he can basically do everything on a baseball field -- including play nine innings at shortstop -- before the Yankees will activate him.

Asked what he would need to see, Cashman said: "Him being able to play all the time without restriction. Healthy. Nine innings. Defense . . . At some point, when he's healthy enough, we'll be extending him back out and finishing off his spring training."

Cashman said he will not activate Jeter just to be a designated hitter.

"No," he said. "We have to get him to be able to play shortstop. I don't think it's going to get him healthy. DHing for us isn't going to get him where we need to be."

After five months of a glitch-free rehab, Jeter was scratched from a spring training game Tuesday with stiffness and had a cortisone shot Wednesday. He had only 11 at-bats in major league spring training before shutting it down.

If Jeter -- who broke his ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS in October -- starts the season on the DL, he will join Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson as Yankees stars on the shelf instead of the field.

Eduardo Nuñez is slated to replace Jeter at shortstop. Cashman reiterated that Sunday.

Since he took over the position in 1996, Jeter has missed only one Opening Day: 2001, when he was on the DL with a strained quadriceps muscle and Luis Sojo started at short.

When Jeter first broke the ankle, the Yankees said they expected him to be ready by Opening Day 2013.

"Well,'' Cashman said, "we were wrong."

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