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NEW YORK (AP) - Don Mattingly knows about trying to come back from an injury that just won’t heal.
“The older you get makes it tougher,” Mattingly, now the Los Angeles Dodgers manager, said Friday. “But I think if there was one guy I wouldn’t doubt, it would be Jeter because he seems to defy the odds.”
Jeter broke the ankle in the AL championship series opener against Detroit in Oct. 13 and found out Thursday there was a small crack near the original injury. The new break will need four-to-eight weeks to heal.
He hit .316 last season and led the AL with 216 hits, his best season since winning his fifth World Series title in 2009. Age has already crimped his range and some wonder whether he will be able to be an everyday shortstop when he returns.
“That’s a pretty significant injury when it’s going to impact your legs like it is, especially the position he plays,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t know if they have to start making other plans to play different spots based on mobility. I don’t know how significant or bad it is. But it’s going to be difficult to come back to what we remember of him in the past, I would think.”
Not wearing a boot and walking without a limp, Jeter spent 45 minutes Friday at the Yankees‘ minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. The Yankees captain was wearing sneakers when he left the facility, where he talked with the training staff. Asked if he was disappointed by the setback, he said “of course” but little else.
“It must be devastating for him,” said 43-year-old closer Mariano Rivera, who came back for a final season this year following a knee injury that sidelined him most of last season. “There are people that lead by example, and he’s one of them. He doesn’t have to say anything. He doesn’t have to say much. He will say something if he needs to, but most of the time it’s just by example. Being there. Playing hard. Respect the game. Be there for your teammates. All that. That’s what’s missed.”
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey expects Jeter to bounce back. The reigning NL MVP and batting champion understands the rigors of extensive rehab having worked back from season-ending left ankle and leg injuries suffered in a collision at the plate in May 2011.
“I was lucky that I didn’t have many setbacks at all, if any,” Posey said Friday in San Francisco. “I think his case is a little bit different than mine is. For all that he’s accomplished, I think anything that he sets his mind to, he’ll probably be able to accomplish that.”
Eduardo Nunez has seen most of the innings at shortstop in Jeter’s absence. New York also is missing third baseman Alex Rodriguez (hip), first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist) and outfielder Curtis Granderson (forearm).
San Diego Padres manager Bud Black is rooting for Jeter to return as strong as ever _ especially with all he means to the sport.
“I’d like to see it,” Black said before playing the Giants. “I’ve seen Derek grow as a player from 1996 until now. I hope he comes back and plays great. He’s been one of my favorite players to watch over the last two decades. He’s been tremendous for our game. He’s a great role model for kids.”
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