Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees All-Star shortstop, captain, and essentially the face of the franchise and the sport itself, is not having the year he expected to have.
After a surprisingly impressive 2012 season in which the 38 year old led the majors in hits with 216 and finished with a .316 batting average, disaster struck in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. Diving for a ball in the hole, Jeter fractured his left ankle, ending his season on a bitter note, and shortly after the Yankees’ season was over as well.
Jeter’s initial return was Opening Day as he rehabbed all off season, underwent the required surgery for the break, and everything seemed as if it was on course to go off without a hitch. But after playing just one Spring Training game in which he fielded only one or two groundouts, he was scratched from any further spring games. He was later scratched from his Opening Day start and then slated to start in May.
Most recently, his May return was delayed yet again to sometime after the All-Star break in July due to another ankle fracture likely more serious than he or any of the Yankee P.R. people are letting on. The question now becomes when will Jeter really return? Will he make it back this season? Perhaps not.
Due to Jeter’s widely known competitive nature and hatred of the D.L. (he is guilty of lying to trainers about his injuries in the past), it is possible that the captain rushed through his rehabilitation. At 38, almost 39, and after 18 years of the game, he couldn’t afford to rush.
A second fracture in a foot that received shots for a bone bruise last September, was sprained that same month, and then was fractured badly enough to require surgery and a rod, does not bode well for Jeter.
The news does not sound good, and the July return might just be a way to placate the fans itching for him to come back into the lineup. If the second fracture isn’t fully healed by then, the Yankees would be remiss to bring him back before he is ready. And if it is late August or September and Jeter hasn’t played a game all season, who knows for sure if he will play at all?
The hope is that he will have a speedy recovery. Regardless of his age he always stays in good baseball shape and never takes a day off, but it is possible that nature is getting the best of him. I hope not.
In the midst of all this, Jeter’s contract expires at the end of this year. He has a player option for 2014, but with all that has gone on surrounding his injury, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.