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Baltimore — Derek Jeter began the season on the disabled list, and that’s how it will end.
The New York Yankees shortstop will miss the rest of the year after being placed on the DL on Wednesday with an injured left ankle.
Jeter missed the first part of the season after breaking his left ankle in the 2012 playoffs. He returned to the DL twice more and played only 17 games, batting .190 with one homer and seven RBIs.
And now, he’s been shelved for a fourth time.
“This entire season has been a nightmare for me physically,” Jeter said. “It’s a fitting end.”
The captain fully intends to return next year, even though he turns 40 on June 26.
“I truly believe with a full offseason, working out and getting my strength back that I can get back to doing what I always have,” Jeter said. “I don’t think you think about the end of anything. Our job is to get ready to play. I tried to come back this year as quickly as possible. Maybe that was not the best thing to do. My job now is to get ready for next year. And I have to do that.”
Jeter last played Saturday against Boston. He was removed for a pinch runner after hurting his left ankle, and although a CT scan was negative, general manager Brian Cashman said the injury will need significant time to heal.
“You have to let the pain dissipate and then give it a chance to let the ankle strengthen back up,” Cashman said. “We’re just not going to have the time to do that in any capacity right now. It puts him in a vulnerable situation and risks re-injury or further injury. And that’s not something we are willing to do.”
His departure comes with New York in the thick of the AL wild-card hunt.
“It’s very disappointing not to be able to play, especially at this time of year,” Jeter said. “This is when I want to play the most.”
The Yankees will miss him, but they’re counting on having Jeter in 2014.
“I have seen him do this over and over and overcome a lot of things people thought he would not overcome,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That just who he is. When you talk about what’s inside Derek, he’s special. That’s what made him great for so long.”
The current ankle injury is seemingly related to the one that occurred last October in the AL championship series against Detroit.
“There is no new medical information other than the fact there were conversations that he has pain most likely stemming from weakness surrounding the bone, the muscles, tendons and ligaments, and it was not going to solve itself anytime soon,” Cashman said. “And he would be vulnerable. Something’s going to give the more we run him out there. So we feel it’s best to shut him down. Let him prepare for next year. That’s the safest thing to do.”
Next year? Cashman is certain of it.
“I have not thought I have watched his last game,” Cashman said. “Not one time.”
New York’s career leader with 3,316 hits, Jeter made his season debut on July 11 but hurt himself in that game and returned to the disabled list on July 19 (retroactive to July 12) with a right quad strain. After being activated on July 28, he was placed on the DL on Aug. 5 with a strained right calf.
“It seemed like when he came back, he was fine and then he would play a couple of games and something would happen,” Girardi said. “It seemed to be the repeated days seemed to get to him a little bit. That was frustrating for him. That was frustrating for all of us because we wanted him out there. I think that’s why we decided to shut him down.”
Jeter was a regular in the lineup after his return on Aug. 26 before again running into problems with the ankle. Now he’s done for good.
“I think it’s just a matter of me not having any strength,” Jeter said. “I have not been able to work out my legs or lift my legs since October of last year. I really think it’s from lack of strength. When I came back, I had two other leg issues because of weakness there. I’ll have a whole offseason to get back to being able to work out. “
Brendan Ryan, obtained in a trade with Seattle on Tuesday, was in the starting lineup at shortstop against the Orioles on Wednesday night.
“I don’t think it’s the most enviable position to step in after a legend,” Ryan said. “He’s not going anywhere. I don’t want it to sound like that. I don’t even know what his status is really. If I play today, and not anymore after that, whatever it is I can do to help.”