TAMPA, Fla. -- Tonight is Derek Jeter's first game at shortstop since he needed to be helped off the field with a broken left ankle at Yankee Stadium last October 13 in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers. Manager Joe Girardi called it "a big step," but said he had just one piece of advice for Jeter:
"Don't do what Ozzie Smith does. No cartwheels and no backflips. That's it," Girardi said before tonight's game against the Phillies at The Boss.
Jeter has appeared in two games so far as a DH, singling on the first live pitch he saw in Saturday's game and going 0-for-2 on Monday. His surgically-repaired ankle, held together with a plate and screws, has stood up well to fielding drills, but as Girardi acknowledged, there's no real substitute for the intensity and randomness of game action.
"I think the plays where you see him extended arethe ones that are really going to tell you," Girardi said. "If you get a play like (Eduardo Nunez) had yesterday where you have to spin and turn and you have to do the backhand and he does his little jump, those are the ones that are going to tell you if he’s completely healthy."
And Girardi admitted he is unlikely to know for sure if Jeter is back to his old self until the end of training camp.
"If he can show that he can move around like he doesn’t feel like the injury is hindering him, and that he can bounce back day to day without him feeling something in his ankle, then I'll be satisfied," Girardi said. "If he can get over those two hurdles in the next two-and-a-half to three weeks, then he’s a full player again. If I feel good when we leave spring training that he’s where he’s supposed to be, then it’ll be just like last year."