ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - Hal Steinbrenner is concerned about Derek Jeter’s recovery from a broken ankle but is confident the New York Yankees captain will return to his form prior to the injury 13 months ago.
Jeter broke his left ankle on Oct. 13, 2012, during the AL championship series opener against Detroit. He didn’t return until July 11 and wound up on the disabled list three more times because of quadriceps and calf injuries and what appeared to be ankle pain. He appeared in only 13 games at shortstop and four at designated hitter, and he’ll turn 40 next June.
“Given his age and given the severity of the injury, I think we all have concerns,” Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner, said Tuesday night after arriving for Major League Baseball meetings. “But if anybody is going to succeed, it’s going to be Derek. Nobody is tougher, and nobody is going to work harder to get back.
“But given his age and given what the injury was _ you know, it’s not a Grade 1 quad strain, this is a fairly serious injury. So are there concerns? Yes. But we’re also confident that he’s going to come back to be the player he was a couple years ago.”
New York and the 13-time All-Star shortstop agreed Nov. 3 to a $12 million, one-year contract, a deal worth $2.5 million more than the player option pending from his previous contract.
“Given what Derek has meant to the organization and means to the organization, all I’m going to say is both sides needed to be comfortable with a number,” Steinbrenner said. “We needed to come up with a number that both sides thought was fair, and that’s what we did.”
In the talks leading to the agreement, the sides never discussed beyond 2014.
“I don’t know that Derek has thought that far,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s got a lot of thinking to do just getting to March, you know what I mean? And I think that’s his focus right now.”
New York also is uncertain about its third baseman. Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games by MLB on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of its drug agreement and labor contract, and the players’ association filed a grievance to overturn the penalty. Hearings resume next week, and arbitrator Fredric Horowitz may not rule until January.
“Right now, we’re assuming Alex is going to be our starting third baseman,” Steinbrenner said. “Time will tell.”
Steinbrenner has not spoken with A-Rod since before the player went to Triple-A Scranton for a minor league rehab assignment last summer.
In addition to the grievance, Rodriguez filed separate lawsuits against MLB and Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad, claiming his hip injury wasn’t properly diagnosed. Steinbrenner said Ahmad would “absolutely” treat Rodriguez if there’s an injury “as far as I know.”
“Anybody can get a second opinion,” he added. “Most of them do.”
Rodriguez has a $25 million salary next year and could earn an additional $6 million payment if he hits six home runs and ties Willie Mays at 660. Steinbrenner isn’t concerned about the uncertainty.
“Even with Alex as our third baseman, we’ve got a fair amount of money to start spending to try to fill the holes, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “We all worry, but I try not to worry about things I can’t control, and I can’t control that process.”