Coming off an injury-plagued 2013 season, Derek Jeter is going to command attention with pretty much every move that he makes this spring. Today was no different, as the Associated Press reports that he took live batting practice on the field and fielded grounders from shortstop for the first time this year.
Jeter took 39 swings over five rounds of batting practice and fielded 34 grounders at shortstop at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida. He had previously been hitting in an indoor batting cage and fielding grounders off the infield grass, so today was an important (though ultimately unexciting) step in his progression.
Jeter remains a big question mark as he enters his age-40 season, but it’s so far, so good at the moment:
“This offseason is like a normal offseason,” said Jeter, who was in a walking boot until early January last year. “I’m four months ahead of where I was last year. Last year, quite honestly, I want to forget about it.”
Jeter, who was limited to just 17 games in 2013 due to ankle, calf, and quad injuries, is sitting on 3,316 hits as he enters his 20th and potential final season in the majors. He needs just four hits to pass Paul Molitor for ninth on the all-time list while Carl Yastrzemski, Honus Wagner, Cap Anson and Tris Speaker could all be within striking distance this year if he can remain healthy and return to his 2012 form at the plate.