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Rehabbing Jeter's bat comes to life

Derek Jeter works out at the Yankee's facility

Derek Jeter works out at the Yankee's facility on the corner of Himes Avenue and Columbus Drive in Tampa. (June 29, 2011) Credit: Carrie Pratt

Derek Jeter could make his first rehab start as soon as Saturday, barring a setback, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday.

Although that would force the shortstop to miss this weekend's Subway Series in Flushing, if healthy, Jeter could return some time during the team's three-game series in Cleveland beginning Monday. But that is a best-case scenario, said Cashman.

"First, let's see how he feels [today], let's see how the next few days go, let's see after we get him in a rehab setting how that goes," said the general manager, who spent the early portion of the afternoon watching Phil Hughes pitch for Trenton. "Then you start talking about what series could he be plugged into. Maybe it's some point during the Cleveland series. Maybe."

If Jeter does play in a rehab game Saturday, it'll be with Double-A Trenton.

Cashman seemed pleased with Jeter's progress, which included full-speed baserunning and full defense with lateral movement. "We'll see how he feels [today], we'll repeat that for the next day or two. And if all goes well, we could be looking at a rehab assignment as early as Saturday," he said. "You would think two [rehab games] at the very least, but we'll see."

Though there is more quickness in Jeter's step and more power in his bat, the Yankees shortstop said after Wednesday's morning workout that he expects at least another day of the same drills before any kind of decision on a potential minor-league cameo.

"You're anxious to play," Jeter said at the team's Tampa training complex after a third day of batting practice and his most extensive work in the field and in running the bases. "I haven't played in a while and I don't like missing games, so I'm looking forward to getting back on the field."

Jeter, sidelined since June 13, tested his strained right calf with increased running -- seven near-sprints to first base, up from four a day earlier, then taking leads and running hard from first to third. His infield work at shortstop was up considerably from Tuesday, and his most visible improvement may have been in batting practice.

After no home runs in his first two days and a combined 78 swings, Jeter went deep twice Wednesday in a span of four pitches during the second of four 10-swing sessions. He sent a line drive over the fence in leftfield, then followed with a shot to right-center.

In a shirt and shorts and wearing a compression sleeve on his right calf, Jeter appeared at ease, sending his first seven swings to rightfield before pulling a ball to third. He said one key to his recovery is not letting the injury enter his mind as he goes through drills.

"I'm not thinking about it," Jeter said. "If you're thinking about it, then you're not ready."

Jeter was technically eligible to return from the disabled list Wednesday, but the team isn't saying when he'll be able to resume his pursuit of his 3,000th career hit, paused two weeks ago at 2,994. The Yankees start a six-game road swing Friday with series at the Mets and Indians, returning home July 7 against Tampa Bay. If Jeter's return coincides with the Yankees' return home, he would have four games at Yankee Stadium against the Rays before the All-Star break. After the break, the Yankees' first eight games are on the road, including four in St. Petersburg against the Rays.

Jeter remained noncommittal about when or where he'll next play in a game, saying he hadn't even discussed the timetable with Yankees coaches. His plan, for now, is simple.

"Do the same thing tomorrow," he said. "You just keep continuing to pick up the intensity and see what happens from there."

With Greg Auman in Tampa, Fla.

New York Sports