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Derek Jeter Vows To Return To Yankees’ Lineup This Season

Derek Jeter insists he’s down with an ankle injury, but not out of the season.

“No doubt,” Jeter said at a news conference Thursday at Yankee Stadium, where he addressed his latest setback from a fractured ankle. “When you have doubt, that is when you have trouble.”

Last week, Jeter was diagnosed with a small crack in his surgically repaired left ankle. He is currently wearing a walking boot to protect the ankle.

“I’ve been told this bone will heal,” Jeter said. “When it heals, I’ll be ready to go. It is frustrating that I can’t magically make it heal sooner than it is taking. But there is no doubt. I have no doubt.”

The Yankees have said they expect Jeter to return after the All-Star break. Jeter declined to put an exact date on when he expects to be back.

“I’m not getting into timelines. The last timeline I set, I didn’t make,” said Jeter, who seemed in very good spirits. “Whenever it heals, I’ll be back.”

Jeter, 38, originally fractured the ankle on Oct. 13 while trying to field a ball in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. A week later, he underwent surgery for what was described as a dislocated ankle.

Following the operation, the Yankees and Jeter said they thought he could be ready by Opening Day. Although he didn’t start running until spring training had started, Jeter and the team hung on to the hope he would be ready by April 1.

Jeter appeared in spring training games, but never played more than five innings and never in back-to-back games. Ultimately, two weeks into camp, he had to be shut down. When he finally returned to the field, the Yankees eventually cut back the amount of grounders he fielded to try to find the right formula for rehabbing the ankle.

Last week, with the ankle not improving, Jeter went to see Dr. Robert Anderson, who had performed the surgery. Anderson found the small crack in the bone but told Yankees general manager Brian Cashman “95 percent” of players return from such a condition.

“It has been a difficult process,” Jeter said. “It’s been a frustrating process. Just when you think you are close to coming back, you have a setback. I guess it is part of the healing process. When you get hurt, it is supposed to take time. It is supposed to take time when you break a bone. Unfortunately, it has taken more time than I anticipated.”

Jeter said he didn’t think he pushed the injury too hard, causing the setbacks. In 2012, Jeter led the majors with 216 hits.

Nunez, who has been shaky on defense in his career, has performed well at short this season, making just two errors. At the plate, Nunez entered Thursday hitting just .184.

Jeter’s 3,304 hits are 11th all time, 11 behind Eddie Collins. Jeter is making $17 million this season. He has a player option for $9.5 million for 2014.

Both Jeter and Yankees manager Joe Girardi expect the shortstop to be the same player when he returns.

“He hasn’t done anything in his career to make me believe that he is not going to be a good player when he comes back,” Girardi said. “I know it is nine months off, but players get four or five months off in the offseason, and they come back and they are fine. I don’t think the extra few months are necessarily going to hurt him. I don’t think he is going to forget how to hit or do all the things he needs to do.”

Jeter said he hasn’t regularly watched many Yankees games because he doesn’t have the Extra Innings package and the games on the YES Network are blacked out in Tampa, Fla.

Jeter, who turns 39 in late June, said he has never had a shred of doubt that he will return throughout the process.

“Eventually it will heal, so I’ve never had any doubt,” Jeter said.

When he does return, Jeter said he will not be offering constant updates about how his ankle feels. His all-time mantra is that either you are hurt or you are playing.

“I don’t talk about injuries,” Jeter said. “I think talking about injuries is just making an excuse for yourself. The only reason I’m talking about this today is because I’m not playing. So when I come back, I won’t talk about it again because you are either good enough to play or you are not. If you are good enough to play, then no one wants to hear about excuses. Hopefully, I don’t have to address this again. So when I start playing, please don’t ask me about it.”

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