Jeter says he's '100 percent,' ready to play ball
New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter said his fractured left ankle is "100 percent" healed, the final step needed for him to be allowed to play in a spring training game.
"It is 100 percent healed, and now we move forward," Jeter said Friday after appearing in a simulated game in which he batted against Andy Pettitte.
The shortstop plans to talk with manager Joe Girardi on Friday or Saturday to decide when he can play his first spring training game. When he does, Girardi has said that Jeter would start off as designated hitter and probably get two at-bats.
Jeter, 38, underwent ankle surgery after suffering a dislocation in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series in October. He spent much of the offseason immobile, having to use a scooter to move around. On Thursday, he went to Charlotte, N.C., for a checkup with Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the surgery.
"It was scheduled before I started playing games to get the final OK," Jeter said of the visit. "There has been a process of a few doctors visits and tests to see how it was coming along. Last time I went there it wasn't completely healed, but now it is."
On Saturday, the Yankees play the Atlanta Braves at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The day is expected to be a celebration of closer Mariano Rivera's career. According to sources, Rivera will announce at a 10 a.m. ET news conference that the 2013 season will be his last. Rivera, who is coming back from knee surgery, will then pitch in his first exhibition game of the year.
Jeter could play as soon as Saturday. The Yankees are in Dunedin on Sunday to face the Blue Jays. On Monday, the Yankees host the Cardinals in Tampa.
"As soon as I can play [in a game], I will play," Jeter said.
Jeter had said that he needed to run full-speed around the bases before he could appear in a game. He hasn't done that yet, but he backed off that requirement for playing in a game. Still, he is pleased with his progress and expects to play on Opening Day.
"It is always reassuring to have someone say that something that was broke is not broken anymore," Jeter said. "Now, it is just getting through the normal aches and pains that come around it, as long as you know a break has healed, the aches and pains go away in time."
On Saturday, Jeter is expected to be at Rivera's news conference. On Friday, he didn't want to talk much about his longtime teammate, preferring to wait until Rivera makes it official.
"I've always enjoyed my time with Mo," Jeter said. "Let him speak on that first. He may be announcing an extension. Who knows?"
A reporter said that that would be a great story.
"Well, they have their policy for free agents," Jeter said with a laugh, referring to the Yankees' sometime-policy of not negotiating with players who will be free agents at year's end.
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