TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are prepared for Derek Jeter to start the season on the disabled list if need be. Jeter has other ideas.

"I don't look at it like that,'' Jeter said Thursday at Steinbrenner Field. "Like I told you guys, my goal is Opening Day. Doesn't change. Nothing has changed from my point of view. I haven't talked to them, but nothing has changed from my standpoint.''

Jeter said the cortisone shot administered Wednesday in the area around his surgically repaired left ankle was a success.

"Just walking around, the soreness feels better,'' he said.

Asked if he could have played Thursday, Jeter said, "If I had to, yeah. If it ain't broke, play. But yeah, if I had to play, I'd play. When you break it, you can't play.''

Jeter was scratched from the lineup Tuesday with stiffness in the ankle he broke in Game 1 of the ALCS last October. He is scheduled to get back on the field Friday. Not to play, but to work out and see if his ankle will allow him to play in enough games to be ready when the Yankees open the season against the Red Sox on April 1.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I wouldn't call it a setback,'' Jeter said. "It's what's supposed to happen, from what I've been told. Even the last couple days when I talked to the doc, he said it's supposed to happen. It's all normal. Everything's fine. Ligaments, the bone, everything's perfect. It's just that's what happens after you have surgery.''

The Yankees have put contingency plans in place in case their 38-year-old captain can't make the opener, according to general manager Brian Cashman. Jeter played in five exhibition games before his setback; when he returns, it will be in minor-league exhibition games so the Yankees can backdate him if he has to start the season on the DL. In that scenario, Jeter would have to miss the first four games of the season and would be eligible to come back April 6 in Detroit.

"It's possible,'' Cashman said. He also said "it's possible'' Jeter won't go on the DL.

Would Jeter be disappointed to still be in Florida when the Yankees open the season in the Bronx? What do you think?

"Of course,'' he said. "I'm disappointed whenever I don't play. My job is to try to be ready on Opening Day. That's what I'm going to continue to do.''

Asked if he sees any benefit to missing a week to get him healthier for the long season, Jeter said: "Nope. Because like I said, this is normal. This is what's supposed to happen. It's not going to go away. It's not going to magically disappear if I take off two days or three days. It's just something you've got to deal with.''

Jeter could open the season as the Yankees' designated hitter. Either way, the erratic Eduardo Nuñez looks set to open the season at shortstop unless Jeter somehow can get healthy and get enough innings in down here.

Of course, he doesn't see it that way.

"Five innings [per exhibition game], nine innings, I don't really think it makes a difference,'' he said. "If you're out there, you can play nine innings. It's not like in the sixth inning you're suddenly tired. It's not basketball or running around the track, it's baseball.''