Derek Jeter runs bases, 'feels good'

Updated: June 29, 2011, 10:57 AM ET
ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has run the bases for the first time, a key step in his rehabilitation program for a strained right calf.

The Yankees captain ran from home to first four times, first to second three times and first to third once on Tuesday at the team's minor league complex.

"Running is probably most important," Jeter told The Associated Press. "Feels good. I'm sure we'll pick it up in the next couple days."

There is no date yet for when Jeter, on the 15-day disabled list for the first time since 2003, will rejoin the lineup. He is six hits shy of 3,000, a chase that's been on hold since he got hurt June 13.

"As soon as I can," he said.

Manager Joe Girardi said Jeter ran at about 50-60 percent, and it will be important to see how he feels Wednesday before deciding when he'll ramp up his sprints.

"The one thing you have to see is you have to see him run at 100 percent and you have to see him recover and maybe do it a couple of days in a row before you can possibly send him out on a rehab," Girardi said before the Yankees hosted Milwaukee.

Jeter could play two minor league rehabilitation games before being activated from the DL, which means he would likely miss the interleague series against the Mets that starts Friday.

"We don't have an exact timetable" for his return, Girardi said.

Girardi added, "He felt good and is moving in the right direction."

Jeter also took 24 grounders on the grass, 10 more at his normal infield position and made throws to first base. He took 47 swings during his second day of on-field batting practice.

Jeter injured his calf while leaving the batter's box during the fifth inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians.

In Jeter's absence, the Yankees have won 9 of 12 games and employed a leadoff platoon of Brett Gardner against right-handed pitching and Nick Swisher against lefties. The two have combined to hit .311 with an on-base percentage of .436. And Jeter's replacement at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, has hit .350 over the 12-game span.

At the time of his injury, Jeter was hitting .260 with an on-base percentage of .324. Asked before Tuesday night's game with the Milwaukee Brewers if he believed the Yankees were appreciably better or worse without Jeter in the lineup, Girardi gave his 37-year-old Hall of Fame bound shortstop a lukewarm vote of confidence.

"Derek's our shortstop," Girardi said. "Nunie has done a very good job filling in for Derek. We think Nunie's got a bright future for us but right now, he's not Derek."

Pressed to assess the difference in his team with Jeter and without him, Girardi said, "Derek's been our shortstop. He brings it every day and he does a great job for us. You're asking me to open up a huge can of worms, and you know that I don't ever do that."

Meanwhile, right-hander Bartolo Colon, sidelined with a strained right hamstring, practiced bunting, a sign that he could pitch against the Mets.

Colon, coming off a 60-pitch, four-inning simulated game on Monday, also threw long toss, ran sprints and did agility drills.

He's on his way back to New York and will be evaluated by the team Wednesday.

"If he's healthy, if we feel that he's ready to go, there's a chance that he's going to pitch," Girardi said.

Converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, threw off a bullpen mound for the second time in four days. If there are no problems, he might throw batting practice later this week.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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