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04/05/2013 1:09 PM ET

Yankees trying to prevent Jeter setback

DETROIT -- Derek Jeter is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but the focus right now is simply getting the captain back on the field in Tampa.

Jeter was sidelined on March 19 due to soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, and he hasn't seen game action since. The Yankees are making sure that the next time Jeter returns, he won't suffer another setback. He's been playing long toss and doing therapy in Tampa recently.

"I know he was so geared on being here Opening Day," manager Joe Girardi said. "He had to work really hard to get to that point, and it just wasn't quite ready. I'm not necessarily surprised. Our hope was he'd be here Opening Day; it just didn't work out.

"I think they're spending time strengthening it more, so hopefully the next time he does go out on the field, he doesn't go through the same thing."

There have been rumors of a return date for Jeter, but the Yankees haven't said anything. First baseman Mark Teixeira is hoping to come back on May 1, but Girardi has no idea about Jeter. When he does come back, Girardi warns that Jeter will need some time to get back into the groove, given the amount of time he missed in Spring Training.

"I have not thrown out a date," Girardi said. "My date is Derek will be ready when he's ready. Position players always tell you they don't need six weeks. Pitchers do. How many weeks he needs, I think it depends how he bounces back each day when he goes out and plays."

Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.