Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees – 1:05 p.m.
It’s official: the captain is finally back.
This morning, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed that Derek Jeter will return today against the Kansas City Royals. According to an 11:00 a.m. tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post (@Joelsherman1), Jeter will DH and bat second today.
Jeter, 39, has not played in the majors since breaking his ankle in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. That was October 13. The future Hall of Famer was originally expected to be ready to suit up for or around Opening Day, but suffered a set back on April 18 when a new break in the same ankle was discovered. The re-break has kept him on the disabled list until today.
Jeter, an 18-year veteran, had previously been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton. In four games there, he went 1-for-9 (.111) with four walks in 13 plate appearances and committed one error in three games at shortstop. New York wasn’t looking for production; however, they were monitoring Jeter’s mobility and durability. His rehab stint proved that he is able to be active in the field and can play in back-to-back games without any negative effects.
As late as yesterday, the Yankees and Jeter had been very coy about when his activation would come, refusing to directly answer the question and giving only “we will see” types of answers.
This morning, Cashman explained to ESPN New York the rationale behind the decision to make today Jeter’s season debut.
“After the game last night, after Hafner got hurt, we looked at the weather patterns and I just decided to make the move for today,” said Cashman. “Derek was scheduled to DH in Scranton, so I figured, he could DH and sit around in the rain in Scranton, or he can DH and sit around in the rain in the Bronx. We chose the Bronx.”
There is little argument that New York needs an offensive boost, especially at the shortstop position. Yankee shortstops have combined to bat .211 (second worst in baseball) with a slugging percentage of .283 (worst in baseball) and 88 strikeouts (worst in baseball).
He will also be a psychological boost for a team whose roster has been mired with injuries and uncertainty since Opening Day. Jeter’s intangibles are unlike any others in baseball, and he will be expected to buoy a Yankees team that, while 7 games over .500 and 6.0 games out of first place, has been radically inconsistent and in need of a steadying presence.
He will be the team’s designated hitter today, but it may not be long before we see old number 2 back in the field at shortstop. According to a tweet from Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (@BryanHoch), Girardi said Jeter could play short as early as tomorrow.