Jeter runs bases, but isn't set to run off DL yet

Jeter runs bases, but isn't set to run off DL yet

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's comeback from a right calf strain took a rather significant step on Tuesday.

In Tampa, Fla., the Yankees' shortstop participated in batting practice, fielded grounders and -- most importantly at this point -- ran the bases for the first time, at what manager Joe Girardi estimated was a 50-60 percent effort.

As for the captain's next step?

"I can't tell you that," Girardi said. "The one thing that you have to see is you have to see him run it at 100 percent, and you have to see him recover and maybe do it a couple of days in a row, before you possibly send him out on a rehab [assignment]."

That rehab assignment, Girardi surmised, would consist of at least two games before the Yankees can deem Jeter ready to return to the lineup and continue his quest to 3,000 hits, which he's six away from.

Jeter, on the disabled list since June 14 with a Grade 1 right calf strain, is officially eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, but that won't happen. And it's uncertain if it'll happen by the start of the Subway Series on Friday.

"We don't have an exact timetable," Girardi said. "I mean, he ran today, ran the bases, he said he felt good. You have to basically see how he feels tomorrow to see if you can increase the intensity."

The Yankees would no doubt prefer that Jeter become the 28th player to reach the 3,000-hit club at home, but the Yankees can't really get caught up in that.

"When he's ready," Girardi said, "that's when we want him back."

After their weekend Interleague series against the Mets at Citi Field, the Yanks play three in Cleveland, then return home to host the Rays on July 7.

Jeter has little problems fielding and hitting; it's the running that's most telling in his recovery. According to an on-site report by The Associated Press, the 37-year-old ran from home to first base four times, first to second three times and first to third once at the Yankees' Minor League complex.

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

Jeter is hitting .260 with a .324 on-base percentage and two homers in 62 games this season. In his absence, Eduardo Nunez has taken over at shortstop, hitting .293 but playing some shaky defense in 12 games since Jeter landed on the DL.

The Yankees entered Tuesday 9-3 in Jeter's absence.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.