The captain is ready to test his twice broken ankle.
Derek Jeter will start a rehabilitation assignment Saturday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the first step toward returning to the New York Yankees. He is scheduled to play at least five innings at shortstop.
Whether he will be able to don his pinstripes before the All-Star break is to be seen.
"I think he has to feel comfortable playing," manager Joe Girardi said Friday. "He really hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats. He has not played a whole lot of infield. So (we need to see him) being able to go back-to-back days, back-to-back-to-back days that sort of thing."
Jeter joins third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the minor leagues. Jeter is starting with the Yankees’ top minor league club because he appears to be further along than A-Rod, who has played two games for Class A Charleston and is is hitless in his first four at-bats.
Rodriguez’s game Friday with the Tampa Yankees, a high-A club, was postponed by rain. He has said he thinks he will need the full 20 days allowed for a rehab assignment to prepare to play after having left hip surgery in January.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would not commit to seeing either player back before the break that begins July 15.
"Those guys will be ready when they’re ready," Cashman said. "That’s it."
Jeter broke his ankle in the opener of the AL championship series on Oct. 13 and had surgery soon after. The player who rarely concedes he’s injured vowed to return for opening day but he only played five spring training games because of soreness in the foot. A new break was discovered on April 18.
On Friday at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Jeter took six simulated at-bats against minor league pitchers and ran the bases after putting the ball in play. He also did one of his signature jump throws to first after fielding a grounder in the hole during defensive drills.
Five players have started at shortstop in Jeter’s absence, and Robinson Cano is looking forward to some stability there with the return of the 13-time All-Star.
"We all know what kind of guy he is and what energy he brings to the team," Cano said. "Not only that — also young players to myself the way he gives good advice, and everybody just looks to him. That’s all we want. We want our guy here and he’s our shortstop."
The Yankees infielder who might be closest to a return is Eduardo Nunez. He started 26 games at shortstop before going out with a left oblique strain June 6. Nunez played for Double-A Trenton on Thursday and was 0 for 5. In five rehab games, he is 3 for 13 with two runs and two stolen bases.
"He’s played this year and he’s has spring training," Girardi said, comparing Nunez to Jeter and Rodriguez.
Also, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda said his hip flexor feels OK and that he was cleared to throw a bullpen session Friday.