Derek Jeter is expected to return to the Yankees’ lineup and play shortstop on Monday night in Toronto.
What will his return mean to the team? Let’s take a look:
• The Yankees have already gotten Jeter back twice this season. But he’s played in just five games because of injury. Jeter, 39, missed the first 91 games recovering from left ankle surgery. He made his season debut on July 11 but strained his quad running to first base and quickly found himself back on the 15-day disabled list. He returned on July 28 but had to shut it down again after four games because of a calf strain. During his latest three-game rehab stint with Triple-A Scranton, Jeter hit .333 with two runs scored and an RBI. The Yankees hope the third time’s the charm for their Captain.
• Jeter’s return means Eduardo Nunez becomes the utility man, which should stabilize the bench. Had Nunez gotten injured, the Yankees likely would’ve had to use Robinson Cano at shortstop and move left fielder/designated hitter Alfonso Soriano to his former position, second base.
• Joe Girardi will no longer have to rotate his two-hole hitters with the return of No. 2. He may want to tinker with the No. 4 through No. 9 batters in the order, but Nos. 1-3 should be Brett Gardner, Jeter and Cano -- at least the majority of the time. In 19 major league at-bats this season, Jeter is hitting .211 with one home run and two RBIs.
• This will be the first time all season that Girardi will have the luxury of penciling Jeter into a revamped lineup that includes Alex Rodriguez, Soriano and Curtis Granderson. Since A-Rod’s return Aug. 5, the Yankees are 12-8 and averaging 4.9 runs per game. (A-Rod has played in 18 of the 20 games.)
• The Yankees lost two out of three in Tampa over the weekend but are 12-1 against Toronto this season. They are playing better baseball of late and find themselves seven games back in the American League East and 3½ games back in the wild-card race. Getting Jeter back -- ideally for the duration this time -- can only help them.