Derek Jeter swings bat amid rehab

Updated: June 26, 2011, 3:01 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter hit off a tee and took soft toss in Tampa on Saturday, but did not run as he continued his rehab from his strained right calf.

Until Jeter begins full-out sprints, a timetable for his return to the pursuit of 3,000 hits will not be known. The New York Yankees plan on being very cautious.

"I don't think there is an exact science," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We just have to make sure his legs are under him and that he can make those sharp cuts that he needs to make. He can get out of the box fine. When he does start that, we have to make sure he is ready, in a sense."

On Saturday, Jeter took 27 swings off a tee and 30 soft toss swings. He also played catch. Jeter is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday. He is not expected to be ready in time. After he is cleared to run fully, the Yankees want him to play a game or two in the minors.

"If you try to come back too early, now you are talking a month," Girardi said. "We have to just make sure when it is time for him to go, it is time for him to go."

Jeter needs just six hits to become the first Yankee with 3,000 for his career. The chase has been on hold since he got hurt June 13.

On Sunday, Jeter turns 37, which means he will not be joining an exclusive group. Only three players (Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount) have reached 3,000 hits before their 37th birthday. All-time hit king, Pete Rose, got to 3,000 twenty-one days after his 37th birthday.

When Jeter reaches 3,000, he will be the 28th player in history to make it to the mark. With the home series against the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle of next week appearing more and more out of the question, Jeter could get to 3,000 in New York.

The Yankees face the Mets next weekend at Citi Field. After three games in Cleveland, they finish with four at home against Tampa.

Alex Rodriguez said he's been seeing trainers since Sunday's game at Wrigley Field, when he tweaked his right knee. The pain hasn't been bad enough that he's begged out of the lineup, though he left late in Saturday's 8-3 win over the Colorado Rockies to give it some rest.

"There are some injuries you can play through and some you can't, and this is one I can play through," said Rodriguez, who went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs. "I think I'm getting better and I'm good enough to play."

Girardi said that Rodriguez has been "fighting through it," and won't necessarily sit him down unless the third baseman asks for a day off.

Meanwhile, right-hander Bartolo Colon, out with a strained right hamstring, felt good after his first bullpen session Friday. He's scheduled to pitch in a simulated game on Monday in Tampa.

Converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, also was scheduled to throw off a mound Saturday.

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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