Joe Girardi cast some doubt on Derek Jeter’s ability to return from a broken ankle by Opening Day, saying yesterday that “there’s a little bit of a question” about whether he’ll be recovered in time to be in the Yankees’ lineup.
Jeter broke his left ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS and underwent surgery on October 20, with initial reports pegging his recovery timetable as 4-5 months. That would mean returning during spring training and Girardi stressed that he believes Jeter “will find a way” to do that, but also admitted it’s no sure thing “because of the rehab and you have to get the full strength and maybe you’re not able to start doing the things you normally would in January.”
Not mentioned by Girardi is that even if Jeter is healthy enough to start playing in spring training and able to be in the Yankees’ lineup for Opening Day the odds of him picking up right where he left off defensively as a 39-year-old shortstop coming back from a broken ankle seem pretty long. And of course while Jeter has five Gold Glove awards the last of those came in 2010 and his defense has long been viewed as a negative based on advanced metrics.
Simply by being a 38-year-old everyday shortstop and by hitting .316 following back-to-back seasons in which he appeared to be declining offensively Jeter has bucked the odds in a huge way already, but Girardi having doubts about his ability to continuing doing so following a broken ankle definitely seem sensible.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.