Jeter a likely spectator all weekend
Cold weather urges Yankees to treat shortstop with caution
BOSTON -- Shortly after Derek Jeter learned he wouldn't be jogging onto the field for a good period of time, he had a few words of foreshadowing for his new manager, just in case Joe Girardi could still be unfamiliar with the shortstop's everyday reputation.
"He's already driving me nuts," Girardi said. "He warned me, 'I'm not very good on the bench, and I'm going to drive you crazy.'"
Jeter sat for his fourth consecutive game on Friday with an upper left quadriceps strain, and the longer his absence continues, the less likely it appears that Jeter will appear at all in the club's series against the Red Sox.
Though Jeter played catch on the field before Friday's game, Girardi said it was "probably doubtful" that Jeter would play before the Yankees leave town to open a two-game series with the Rays in St. Petersburg on Monday. The cool Boston atmosphere had a lot to do with that forecast.
"It's not the greatest weather conditions, and it's going to get chillier as the three days go on," Girardi said.
Jeter was at least able to resume some semblance of baseball activities, having spent most of his time in the trainer's room after straining the muscle in Monday's game at Yankee Stadium. Jeter went through normal stretching and played catch on the field at Fenway Park; if weather conditions permit, he could take ground balls as soon as Saturday.
Jeter said there was no official timetable for when he could begin running, a necessary step before he can return to game action.
"If I had to guess, I would assume [Saturday] or Sunday," Jeter said. "I can't play until I run."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he expects Jeter to be inactive for the entire series at Boston as well, which would run the shortstop's string of games missed to six. The Yankees would then re-evaluate Jeter leading into their series in Florida on Monday, in which case they could place Jeter on the disabled list retroactively if he is still not able to play.
As far as Red Sox manager Terry Francona is concerned, he said Friday -- tongue in cheek -- that Jeter should take his sweet time returning to the Yankees' lineup.
"I think that's very sensible on his part -- I'm always worried about him," Francona said. "It's a long year. I may go seek him out and tell him he needs to be careful. You can never be too careful."
Francona was quick to clarify that he was joking out of respect for Jeter.
"If you're a Boston fan, you certainly don't want to see him have something to do with the outcome of a game," Francona said. "If you're a baseball fan, it's hard not to like him."
In the meantime, Cashman said that the Yankees have been pleased with what they have seen so far from 24-year-old shortstop Alberto Gonzalez, who was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday and started again on Friday in Jeter's place.
"He's a good defender, and his bat is improving," Cashman said. "If he can hit enough, he's an everyday player. If he doesn't, he needs to play, so he's not going to be here to sit on the bench, even though he's qualified to do that. When Derek's ready, he'll go back [to the Minors] to get more at-bats."
The Yankees conducted discussions over the winter on how they would respond if Jeter went down for various lengths of time; under the likeliest scenario, that Jeter would miss a game or two, the club decided that infielder Wilson Betemit was capable of filling in for that brief period of time.
If the span ran more than that, as it has now with Jeter, the slick-fielding Gonzalez would be recalled. The only scenario under which the Yankees would consider shifting Alex Rodriguez from third base to shortstop, Cashman said, was if Jeter were to miss two months or more.
"We'd at least consider it," Cashman said. "I'm not saying we'd do it. So we're executing [that plan] right now."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.