The Captain is not used to sitting at home in October, let alone only playing 17 games in a season. However, Derek Jeter has expressed excitement about how normal his winter could be. The 39 year old believes that being unable to follow his usual offseason training program was a major factor in the 2013 season that he called a “nightmare,” complete with four stints on the disabled list due to a stubborn left ankle and other injuries.
“I haven’t been able to work out my legs or lift my legs since October of last year,” Jeter said before the end of the regular season. “The first time it broke (in the American League Championship Series), you can’t do anything weight bearing and you can’t work out. Then I was cleared in Spring Training and it was only a couple weeks before I had the second incident. I really think it’s just from a lack of strength. I think just having a normal offseason, getting back to being able to work out no one foresees any other issues.”
Nobody loves the game more or wants to play as badly as the aging Shortstop, but turning 40 years old next June doesn’t bode well for Jeter. There is not a long list of shortstops who remained productive past 40. In fact, only Omar Vizquel played more than 100 games as a shortstop at age 39 or older.
“I certainly hope to get Derek back to the Derek that we’re all used to,” Brian Cashman said. “He’s one of those guys that did everything in his power to fight through something that turned out to be pretty significant. And so now he’ll have some time to back off, get some rest, some more flexibility back and get every aspect of that ankle in line as far as the kinetic chain.”
If, God forbid, Jeter wasn’t ready for the 2014 season, they aren’t completely out of luck. Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta are two potential free agents the Bombers could have their eye on. The club also got a quick look at Brendan Ryan, who was an effective fill in at short when he was picked him up in September from the Mariners.
Joe Girardi has agreed with Cashman, saying that it would be “premature” to discuss a position change before Jeter has a chance to recapture his expected level of play. Besides, the Yankees have not been in the business of betting against Jeter.
“I expect him to play, and I think he’ll do everything in his power to get back to the form he was in 2012,” Girardi said. “He’s got an offseason that he has a lot of strength that he wants to gain back in his legs and have a normal offseason. It should be good for him.”
Jeter: “I truly believe, with a full offseason of working out and getting my strength back, that I’ll get back to doing what I’ve always done.”