CLEVELAND -- If it is true that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, then Derek Jeter's journey back to the major leagues began again today in Tampa, Fla., where he ran for the first time since taking four at-bats in a minor league game on March 23, after which he was shut down for the next two weeks.
It wasn't full-speed running and Jeter is not turning corners yet, but Joe Girardi saw it as progress in Jeter's rehabilitation from a broken and surgically repaired ankle suffered in last October's American League Championship Series.
Jeter also took some batting practice in the cage, but Girardi said the fact he was able to run again was a sign that he is moving in the right direction.
"For me, the hitting is not as big a step as being able to run," Girardi said. "He did some sprints. It's not 100 percent, but he was able to do 'em and to me that’s a big step. I'm really curious to see how he’s going to feel tomorrow."
Girardi said Jeter will take batting practice outside on the field tomorrow, but the big test will come before that, when he wakes up in the morning. So far, the problem has been that Jeter has been unable to engage in any intense baseball activities, particularly playing the field and running the bases, without coming up too sore to play again the next day. For that reason, Girardi can't give a timetable for Jeter's return to rehab games, let alone major league action. And once he does return to the field, Girardi said he will need to see Jeter in several games played back-to-back before feeling he is ready to return.
"It's not like it's going to be a two- or three-game rehab," Girardi said. "It's not. It's going to have to be more and you're going to have to see him maybe four out of five days and that sort of thing."
Girardi said Jeter's workouts will be videotaped and the footage sent to him and the training staff, who will study it to determine when Jeter is ready to play again. "I think we'll be able to tell by the way he's moving," Girardi said. "He's not going to be able to hide it, I don't think."