Derek Jeter knows he must be patient as he makes his way back from his ankle injury, but he doesn’t like it. Looking like a man who is tired of waiting to return, he talked about the importance of limiting his physical activity.
“It’s day to day, really,” Jeter said. “I’ve got to stay away from impact. I can’t jump, I can’t run until I get final clearance.”
But he has stepped- up his progress. He is now fielding ground balls in Tampa, although he is only taking ones that are hit directly to him. He is not yet testing the ankle with movement from side to side. He is also swinging the bat.
As for his return date, Jeter opted to wait and see.
“As soon as possible. That’s it,” he said. “I’m not going to put a date on it. The last time I put a date on it, it didn’t work. As soon as I can play, I’ll play.”
An important step is his visit to Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina this week. The plan is for Dr. Anderson to examine a new scan of Jeter’s ankle.
Of course, Yankees’ fans are anxious to see Jeter in the lineup again. With Jayson Nix hitting well, there is no need to rush. Nix has been an adventure at times in the field, however. Even so, this is tolerable, considering the alternative of hurrying Jeter back.
Ideally, manager Joe Girardi should allow Jeter to decide the time frame, as the Yankees did with Mariano Rivera and his injury. Girardi has always chosen to give his players ample rest. So bet your bottom dollar that he will give Jeter as much time as he needs, even after he returns.
Ultimately, Jeter knows his body better than anyone. He knows he must hold back his desire to get back on the field until his body is ready. He is mature enough to error on the side of caution.
The good news is that we are seeing real progress, even if it is slow progress. If Jeter can exercise patience, we can too.