(Courtesy of Getty Images)
As good as things were looking when Derek Jeter got back on the field and back into game action at shortstop two weeks ago, that's how bad they're looking right now after that game action led to inflammation and pain in the ankle, missed game time, a plan to play in only MiL games for the remainder of the spring, and what is now looking like a guaranteed start on the disabled list when the Yankees open regular season action in a week rather than at the top of the lineup card.
Things took a pretty negative turn when the whole MiL games plan was announced a few days ago. If Jeter was healthy enough to play in MiL games, he would obviously be playing in Major League games. The inflammation in the ankle was a bigger setback than the Yankees wanted to let on and we wanted to believe, and from the moment he woke up that morning with stiffness in the ankle a DL trip became inevitable.
Jeter did play in a MiL game yesterday, going 0-4 at the plate with four groundouts and playing the game as the DH rather than the shortstop. I know that's a very small sample size, but the results point to the ankle being a major problem. He was scratched from today's game early this morning after experiencing more pain in the ankle, pain that, according to David Waldstein, has moved to a different part in the ankle and led both Jeter and Brian Cashman to the conclusion that a DL stint is necessary. Cash also said Eduardo Nunez will be the starting SS while Jeter is out, and the new target date for Jeter's return in April 6th.
There's nothing positive to be taken from this latest turn of events. Everybody knew Jeter's ankle was going to be a question mark this year, and I think we all got a little ahead of ourselves when we saw him back on the field and back playing shortstop. The bottom line is that he's a 40-year-old professional athlete coming off a serious ankle injury in a sport that requires good ankle health to be effective at the position he plays. The Yankees are making the right decision to put Jeter on the DL, but let's not all get excited about the prospect of Jeter coming back good as new on April 6th. The ankle is still going to be banged up then, and it's going to continue to be banged up for as long as Jeter plays this season.
Remember that slash line I threw out two weeks ago that I said I'd be happy getting from Jeter this year? Yeah, I think I'm comfortable bumping those numbers down now.