Derek Jeter said his recovery from left ankle surgery is on schedule and that he’ll be ready to start at shortstop in the New York Yankees’ April 1 regular-season opener at home against the Boston Red Sox.
Jeter, who broke a bone in his ankle during the 2012 postseason four months ago, won’t be on the practice field today as the Yankees begin their first full-squad spring training workouts in Tampa, Florida.
Jeter also won’t play in any early spring training games, which begin Feb. 23, and said he plans to move his running program from the treadmill to the field in the next few days.
“I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” Jeter said at a news conference yesterday. “Up until this point, the ankle has healed perfectly. Now, it’s just a matter of getting everything else in shape. I’m going to have to push myself, but opening day has been the goal all along.”
Jeter was injured lunging for a ground ball during Game 1 of last year’s American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees’ captain said the offseason was “terrible” as he recovered from surgery in which plates and screws were inserted in his ankle to provide stability.
Jeter said he was stuck on his couch for five or six weeks and used a scooter to get around his house at one point.
“I don’t want to make it sound more dramatic than it is, but you have to learn to walk again,” Jeter said. “In that sense, physically it was a challenge. Mentally, it was a challenge when you are sitting on the couch and you can’t get anywhere.”
Jeter, a 13-time All-Star who will be entering his 19th year with the Yankees, batted .316 with a major league-leading 216 hits last season.
The 1973 Boston Red Sox are the only team in major league history to post a winning record while playing with a regular shortstop who turned 39 or older during the season, ESPN said. Boston went 89-73 that year with shortstop Luis Aparicio playing the last of his 18 major league seasons at age 39.
Jeter, who turns 39 on June 26, said questions about his health are expected as he gets older.
“If I didn’t break my ankle, I’d still be answering probably similar questions,” Jeter said. “As much as I’d like to be getting younger, I’m not. Everybody’s getting older.
‘‘I don’t think about age when I’m playing. I really don’t,” he added. “If you get caught up talking about how old you’re getting, those are negative thoughts. I just try to focus on getting ready to play and doing the best I can.”