Derek Jeter has been cleared to begin an official minor-league rehab assignment, the Yankees announced. He will join the team's Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday and play at least five innings at shortstop.
Jeter, 39, had surgery to repair a fractured left ankle in late October and had a setback a few weeks ago. He was originally expected to return in May but the timetable was pushed back to sometime after the All-Star break following the setback. If he uses the full 20-day rehab window, he'll return just after the Midsummer Classic.
The Yankees have already had five players start a game at shortstop this season: Jayson Nix, Reid Brignac, Alberto Gonzalez, Eduardo Nunez and Luis Cruz. Robinson Cano played one inning at the position as well. The team has gotten a .205/.270/.283 (65 OPS+) batting line out of its shortstops in 2013.
Before the ankle injury, Jeter hit .316/.362/.429 (114 OPS+) while leading the league in hits (216), plate appearances (740) and at-bats (683) last season. There's no telling how an injury that serious will impact a player, especially one pushing 40, but it won't take much for the team's captain to improve the lineup.
Nunez (ribcage) and Alex Rodriguez (hip) are both currently on minor-league rehab assignments as well. Assuming no further setbacks, the Yankees will get all three players back by the end of the month.
New York is still without Michael Pineda (shoulder), Curtis Granderson (hand) and Francisco Cervelli (hand, elbow). Mark Teixeira (wrist) is done for the season, and the same is likely true for Kevin Youkilis (back).