Derek Jeter gets “final clearance” on surgically-repaired ankle

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Finally some positive news out of Yankees camp.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, veteran shortstop Derek Jeter was given “final clearance” on Thursday afternoon in North Carolina from the doctor that performed his ankle surgery in late October. In other words, Jeter is free to perform all baseball-related activities and can begin playing in Grapefruit League games without any restrictions.

The Yankees have said that Jeter will make his spring debut on March 10 — this Sunday — against the Blue Jays. And they can now stick to that date with a good amount of confidence that everything will go smoothly.

Jeter batted .316/.362/.429 with 15 home runs, 58 RBI and 99 runs scored over 159 games last season for New York. The 38-year-old will probably make close to 50 plate appearances in the Grapefruit League.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.

Report: Phillies making Maikel Franco available in trade discussions

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.

Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.

It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.

Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.