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06/17/09 5:50 PM ET

Jeter held out of lineup against Nats

Shortstop tried to talk skipper Girardi into letting him play

NEW YORK -- An MRI examination on Derek Jeter's stiff left ankle came back clean, but the Yankees shortstop was still held out of the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Nationals.

Jeter tried to talk manager Joe Girardi into playing him, but Girardi said that he would give Jeter another day as a precaution and check with the captain before Thursday's afternoon game against Washington.

"It worries me a little bit, but he told me he was playing tonight," Girardi said. "That makes me believe that he's feeling better. My thought process is that if he goes out there and irritates it again, then we're back at square one."

Jeter left Tuesday's 5-3 victory over Washington after seven innings, showing some difficulty running to first base on a sixth-inning groundout.

"It just stiffened up," Jeter said. "That's the only thing. It's not a big deal."

Girardi said that the stiffness likely dated to Sunday's 15-0 win over the Mets, when Gary Sheffield tried to break up a fourth-inning double play. Jeter said he wasn't sure when it happened, but said it did not hinder him much.

"Could be," Jeter said. "I really wish I could pinpoint it. It's not one particular play where something happened. It could have happened running the bases. I really don't know."

Ramiro Pena logged the start at shortstop in Jeter's absence. Jeter consistently tells Yankees staff that he is ready to play, making his status something of a running joke among personnel. Despite Jeter's constant readiness to enter the lineup, Girardi said there is a trick to reading him.

"Usually you can read his facial expressions," Girardi said. "I've been around him long enough. We'll just go day by day. We'll watch how he runs. I'll have to see how he feels [tomorrow]. I'm sure he's going to come in and tell me he feels great."

Jeter is considered day-to-day and said that he would be ready if called upon for a pinch-hitting appearance.

"I'm available to play," Jeter said. "I'm available to start."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.