A season ago at this point, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had yet to take the field for full workouts, let alone being able to participate in any exhibition games of the Grapefruit League season. It wouldn’t be long after, that continuing problems would present themselves with Jeter’s surgically-repaired ankle, and eventually, derailing his entire 2013 campaign. But that was last year. The Captain, who announced that 2014 would be his final season in the big leagues, has shown no ill-effects from missing most of last season. Make no mistake, Derek Jeter isn’t the 25-year-old version from 15 years ago, but he’s turning heads of both his teammates and his coaches. Yankees’ hitting coach Kevin Long said:
He is moving better and not favoring anything…It looks very routine and normal to me. Compared to 2013, from a physical standpoint, he is moving good and running good.
With the departure of Robinson Cano along with the suspension of Alex Rodriguez, Jeter’s recovery this spring isn’t the Yankees biggest issues when it comes to their infield depth. Even Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi has noticed the way Jeter has performed this spring compared to one year ago:
He is a lot further ahead than he was last spring, I can tell you that…Last spring, we were watching him force it and watching him limp and not being able to play back-to-back games. It’s a much different spring, it’s got a much different feel to it. My eyes check all the time, and I remember last year and hard [running to first base] was for him. I have seen nothing to make me think it’s going to be a problem.
The focus will be on replacements Kelly Johnson replacing A-Rod at third, and the oft-injured Brian Roberts taking over for Cano at second. First baseman Mark Teixeira is also returning from wrist surgery, and is spending the spring knocking off the rust. Jeter is doing the same, after starting his exhibition season going 0-for-10, and hitting only .167 (4-for-24) coming into action down in Panama.
With the outstanding spring that backup catching candidate Francisco Cervelli has had, the Yankees may be in the market to move him for depth to help Jeter, as insurance policy Brendan Ryan has been out over a week with lower back issues.