Four weeks after learning Derek Jeter had suffered a second fracture in his left ankle, the Yankees finally received what qualifies as good news concerning their captain.
Jeter is expected to be out until after the All-Star break but the Yankees said when he was recently re-evaluated, it had healed to the point where he can soon shed the walking boot.
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“It’s healing,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They see the bone is going back together. They say it’s healing. I think he’ll be out of the boot sometime shortly and then he’ll go from there.”
Jeter has not played since crumpling to the ground in Game 1 of the ALCS against Detroit on Oct. 13. He was hoping to return by Opening Day but during spring training it became apparent that was not going to happen nor was the second tentative return date of May 1 once he struggled with soreness at various points in exhibition games.
Jeter did not make his spring training debut until March 9, and took the field March 13. After playing defense in consecutive games March 15 and March 16, he was scratched on March 19 and required an anti-inflammatory injection.
Without Jeter, Eduardo Nunez has started 26 games, Jayson Nix has made 11 starts and Alberto Gonzalez has made the other starts at shortstop. Defensively, Yankee shortstops have made five errors in 162 chances for a .969 fielding percentage.
Now a reliever, Betances joins Yankees
Dellin Betances threw five no-hit innings for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre at Gwinnett on May 5. After throwing 90 pitches to 20 hitters, minor-league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson told him he was headed to the bullpen.
“It was [strange] because I was starting to feel like I was getting quality starts, but there’s nothing I could have done about it,” Betances said. “Whatever I need to do, I’m ready for whatever.”
In two outings, he allowed one run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings while throwing 64 pitches to 16 hitters. Since the Yankees used Brett Marshall for 108 pitches spanning 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 12-2 loss, they needed another arm and Betances was the choice.
“It's just been a battle, just mechanic-wise,” Betances said. “I've worked real hard to repeat my delivery. I feel like I'm getting there. I feel like I'm real, real, real close. I feel like I'm throwing more strikes, especially out of the bullpen in a different mode. It's more of an attack mode right out of the gate.”
Betances spent time with the Yankees as a September call-up two years ago when he issued six walks to 16 hitters in mop-up relief. Last year, the 6-foot-8 Grand Street Campus (Brooklyn, N.Y.) product was 6-9 with a 6.44 ERA in 27 appearances (26 starts) while splitting time between Double-A Trenton and Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
“He’s done OK. He had one really good outing the time before last,” Girardi said. “His last outing was OK. We like that he can simplify things and get on a roll and [can] be another arm for us.”
Yankee injury updates ...
» Michael Pineda will throw 50 pitches on Friday either in extended spring training or in an intrasquad game.
Since Pineda has not pitched in nearly two years, the Yankees need him to build his arm strength back up to 100 pitches but they expect that to happen and that he will pitch sometime this summer
“We’ll continue to build him up,” Girardi said. “Starters as you know take a lot longer than relievers because you have to get him to 100 pitches and for a kid who hasn’t pitched in a couple of years, you may want to see a couple of times and make sure he’s ready to go every fifth day.”
» Joba Chamberlain will need another week to heal from a ribcage injury. Chamberlain was eligible to be activated but although he has not had a setback, the Yankees are playing it safe by having him play catch which will likely be followed by another bullpen session and another rehab appearance.
“Ribcages are tricky,” Girardi said. “A lot of times you’ll see where guys can actually throw or swing but you don’t feel that they are a hundred percent full power and we don’t think he’s quite there yet so we want to make sure he’s ready.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.