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Friday, April 4
 
MRI shows Jeter will not need surgery

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees might have caught a big break: The All-Star shortstop probably won't need surgery.

Jeter
Jeter

Team doctors said Friday that Jeter's injury should be treated "conservatively'' instead of with an operation that could have sidelined the heart and soul of the Yankees for most of the season.

Instead, Jeter could be back in about a month. He will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday.

"There wasn't anything major wrong,'' Jeter said. "This is probably as good as it gets. I was always optimistic throughout the process, but obviously until you get the results it's unknown. It's good news. Hopefully, the second opinion is the same as the first.''

Jeter injured his shoulder in a violent collision Monday night in the team's season opener. He underwent an MRI exam in Tampa on Thursday and team doctors Allen Miller and Stuart Hershon released their conclusions Friday.

Manager Joe Torre said it's still too soon to speculate on when Jeter might be able to return. He probably will not be able to swing a bat for at least 10 days, but once he is able to do that the Yankees should have a better idea of when he'll be ready.

"It's still going to be some time. It's still important for him to do everything he needs to do,'' Torre said. "He could probably can do some kind of conditioning now, but nothing involving the shoulder probably for 10 or 12 days.''

The manager emphasized that the team will not rush Jeter.

"His career is far more important than his availability to us. ... The most important thing is to have him back as the same player he was before the collision,'' Torre said.

"I'm sure there's going to be a little time where he's going to go through hesitation. The good news is that if it does bother him or whatever, it's not going to injure him. The pain is one thing, the discomfort is one thing, but as of right now all the reports are there's no damage that is threatening to his career.''

Without surgery, players usually can return in four-to-six weeks from this type of injury, according to Dr. Jonathan Glashow, a shoulder specialist. An operation would have sidelined Jeter for three-to-four months.

Because Jeter is only 28 years old, he could be more susceptible to further dislocations if he does not have surgery, said Glashow, an orthopedic surgeon at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital.

Jeter hurt his shoulder in the third inning Monday when he slid headfirst going from first to third on an infield groundout. Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby, covering third because of an overshifted infield, landed on Jeter's shoulder in a violent collision.

Jeter said the shoulder is already feeling better.

"The range of motion is back more so than it was a couple of days ago. It's stiff. It's going to take a little time,'' he said, adding that the toughest challenge ahead is getting over the injury mentally.

"You can't play trying not to do something. I've always been aggressive,'' Jeter said. "I'm not going to change the way I play. You just hope that you strengthen it enough to where it doesn't happen again.''

Erick Almonte was called up from Triple-A Columbus to replace Jeter and homered in his first start Wednesday night.

The five-time All-Star has been the Yankees' leader during their run of four World Series titles and five AL pennants since his rookie year in 1996.

Jeter, MVP of the 2000 All-Star game and World Series, hit a career-low .297 last season with 18 homers and 75 RBI. His batting average has dropped three straight years, from .349 in 1999 to his first sub-.300 average last season.

Jeter has been very durable in his career, playing through a variety of nagging ailments and has even tried to hide injuries from Torre so he could stay in the lineup.

This is the fourth time Jeter has been on the disabled list in his career. He never missed more than 16 days the first three times.

Like Torre, Jeter was reluctant to predict when he'll be back.

"I don't think you can really put a timetable on it,'' he said. "Whenever I feel good enough to play, I'll play.''




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