This thing really came together quickly, huh? Earlier in the week there were hints and suggestions that the Yankees were planning to activate Derek Jeter from the DL as early as this weekend. The situation heated up yesterday when Craig Carton tweeted that Jeter would be in the lineup Friday and The Post reported that his stuff had been shipped out of Tampa. Late last night, Ken Rosenthal brought things to a boil when he tweeted that Jeter would be back for today’s series finale against the Royals. Joel Sherman reported the same about an hour ago, so all signs point to The Captain making his return this afternoon.
As someone who’s been firmly in the “don’t rush him back” camp since he had the surgery last year, it’s hard to say I’m a fan of this move. What it boils down to is that I don’t think it’s smart for the team to basically mandate that it wanted to see its 39-year-old shortstop play 2 consecutive full games in the field before declaring him ready to return and then drastically alter that plan after the aforementioned 39-year-old shortstop has already suffered one setback this season from trying to come back too quickly. With his range already limited and a player option available for next season, this just doesn’t ring as a smart baseball or business decision.
That being said, I completely understand why the Yankees are doing it. They’ve been a nightmare offensively for the better part of the last 2+ months and nowhere has that been more apparent than at shortstop, where they’ve gotten a whopping .552 OPS’ worth of production. They’re still right in the thick of things in the AL playoff race and as long as the Steinbrenners are willing to play the “championship-caliber team” card in the media, they have to make a move like bringing back their captain if he’s ready to go. Jeter’s no doctor, but if he says he’s good and all the people with medical degrees agree with him, that’s good enough for me. A rusty Derek Jeter is still probably better than Luis Cruz or Eduardo Nunez.
For what it’s worth, Sherman also tweeted this morning that scouts he spoke to “marveled” at Jeter’s bat speed and timing in his Triple-A rehab games. He only went 1-9 with 4 BB and 3 K in his 4 MiL games, so who knows how credible those scouts are. But if all these reports are true and Jeter is going to be in the lineup this afternoon, then that’s good news for the Yankees. If nothing else, his presence should bring a little more pep to the clubhouse and The Stadium.