Derek Jeter will rejoin the New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon and will be batting second as the designated hitter against the Kansas City Royals.
Jeter, 39, will be playing for the first time this season after undergoing surgery on his left ankle last October. He suffered the original injury during the American League Championship Series, then had a setback in April when doctors discovered a small crack in his ankle, near the initial break.
The Yankees are 49-42, six games back in the AL East, despite playing without Jeter all season. However, they are just 12th out of 15 teams in the AL in runs scored, and the combined OPS of their shortstops ranks next to last in the league, ahead of only the Mariners.
Jeter played the fourth and final game of his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on Thursday night. He went 1 for 9 with four walks during his assignment. Scouts marveled at how quickly he regained his swing, but one expressed concern about his throwing, saying Jeter could have issues stemming from lingering weakness in his ankle.
Even with the return of Jeter, the Yankees are not yet at full strength. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, coming off left-hip surgery, is on a rehabilitation assignment. Outfielder Curtis Granderson, recovering from a broken left pinkie, is still not swinging a bat. Catcher Francisco Cervelli, dealing with a stress reaction in his right elbow, is expected to be out until August.
Two other injured Yankees, third baseman Kevin Youkilis and first baseman Mark Teixeira, will be out even longer. Youkilis could return in September from back surgery, but Teixeira is done for the season after undergoing surgery on his right wrist.
In order to make room on the roster for Jeter, first baseman Travis Ishikawa was designated for assignment.