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Breathe Easy, Yankee Fans

Kenny Ducey/WFUV Sports

The Captain is back. He may not be 100%, but he's back.

Derek Jeter made his return to the Bronx on Thursday afternoon, and for at least one day, restored hope to Yankee fans young and old.

Jeter was hampered by an ankle injury sustained during last year’s division series against the Orioles, and for a while, no one was really sure about when he’d be back. But the doubt and concern that came with his injury, along with the same doubts and concerns about the current Yankee team, were all washed away on Thursday. 

The big question now is just how far ‘back’ is the Yankee Captain? Will fans see the same player who led all of baseball in hits last season? It reminds me of when Andy Pettitte came out of retirement last year and everyone was wondering if he’d be the same pitcher who dominated in the playoffs for so many years.

The thing with Jeter is the Yankees expedited his rehab assignment. Even Joe Girardi admitted that Jeter wasn’t extended enough during his minor league appearances. He only had nine at-bats with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Still, he told general manager Brian Cashman he was ready to go. Then again, asking Derek Jeter if he’s ready to play again is like asking George Steinbrenner if he wants to win. You’re always going to get the same answer every time.

The captain did prove somewhat human in his first day back, as he tightened his right quad in his third plate appearance.

The Yankees said DJ came back early due to the injuries sustained by Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner on Tuesday. So if those two didn’t get hurt, Jeter would have rehabbed in Triple-A for at least another week, right? 

Wrong. Jeter said Wednesday he was due to come back Friday but quickly changed plans after getting the call Tuesday night from Cashman.

This proves one thing to me: Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman realized how badly this offense had been struggling and they knew regardless of whether or not he was ready, Jeter was needed back in the Yankee lineup. It was long overdue. One might think differently if the fountain of youth didn’t run out so fast on Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner. But it most certainly did, and those who didn’t think it would didn’t realize the combined age of those three is 106. In addition, the re-injuries to Tex and Granderson didn’t help matters.

So now Jeter’s back. Maybe it is a moment too soon, as far as Jeter and his rehab is concerned. But either way, it’s a breath of fresh air for the Bronx Bombers.