Yankees captain Derek Jeter will come off the DL and return to the team on Thursday. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed the original report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Jeter has missed the entire season due to a fractured left ankle and subsequent setback.
Our own Danny Knobler passes along word that Jeter will be batting second and in the DH slot against the Royals on Thursday. As well, manager Joe Girardi says Jeter could see action at shortstop on Friday against the Twins. As Knobler notes, the plan had originally been to bring back Jeter on Friday, but injuries to Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner forced the Yankees' hand. Girardi also says that Jeter is likely to continue batting in the two-hole moving forward.
Jeter, 39, suffered the original break during the ALCS last October. He had surgery later that month and was originally expected to be ready in time for opening day. His rehab went slower than expected in spring training, and he suffered a second, smaller fracture in May.
In four minor-league rehab games with the team's Triple-A affiliate, Jeter went 1-for-9 with four walks and three strikeouts. He played three games at shortstop -- including seven innings at the position on Wednesday night -- and one at DH. The Yankees figure to ease him back into the lineup rather than run him out there as the everyday shortstop right out of the chute.
Jeter hit .316/.362/.429 (115 OPS+) with a league-leading 216 hits last season. He also hit .364/.399/.542 (149 OPS+) against left-handed pitchers, which has proven to be a major weakness for this year's Yankees. They went into Wednesday's action hitting .235/.305/.340 (84 OPS+) against southpaws as a team.
Five players have started a game at shortstop for the Yankees this year: Alberto Gonzalez, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Luis Cruz and Reid Brignac. They have collectively hit .210/.269/.283 (65 OPS+) this season, so even a diminished Jeter represents an upgrade.
The Yankees are still without Alex Rodriguez, who is on a minor-league rehab assignment following hip surgery. Mark Teixeira (wrist) is done for the season, and Kevin Youkilis (back) might be as well. Francisco Cervelli (hand) and Curtis Granderson (hand) are expected back in the next several weeks.