Derek Jeter ran the bases during his second simulated game Tuesday, which could pave the way for the captain to return as early as this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"The fact that he's running the bases is a positive sign for me," manager Joe Girardi said.
Jeter, 39, has been on the disabled list since Aug. 5 with a strained right calf and the Yankees have been tight-lipped about his rehab plan.
Girardi said after the Yankees' win last night that Jeter will not play in a simulated game today, just a workout. He declined to specify the next step in Jeter's rehab, saying only that he's encouraged Jeter had been cleared to run the bases "and we'll go from there."
Running the bases is typically regarded as the most significant step in a player's return from a calf injury.
Playing in a simulated game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Jeter ran home to first base four times and home to second once.
Asked if Jeter could return this weekend, Girardi said he wasn't sure. "You're asking me to reveal the plan," he said.
Ankle, calf and quad injuries have limited Jeter to only five games with the Yankees this season. He's 4-for-19 with a home run.
While Girardi recently said he expects the Yankees will need "big innings" from Joba Chamberlain at some point this season, the reliever still has a ways to go to earn the manager's trust.
Chamberlain started the ninth inning of the afternoon game Tuesday with a comfortable four-run lead to protect, but Girardi removed Chamberlain after he issued a one-out walk to Rajai Davis.
Girardi said he brought in Mariano Rivera there -- in a non-save situation -- because he wanted to give his closer "a little wiggle room" as opposed to waiting for more runners to reach.
"They've got some home run hitters coming up and you don't want to put him in a situation where the tying run is at the plate," Girardi said.
Robinson Cano's third-inning homer was the 200th of his career, the 16th player in Yankees history to reach that plateau . . . An MRI on Eduardo Nuñez's right hamstring Monday came back negative and he was in the lineup for the nightcap.