NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter was dismissive toward the New York media as reporters tried to learn the latest on the bone bruise in his left ankle before Friday's game. He had a similar response when manager Joe Girardi asked about it in an attempt to determine whether he could pencil the 38-year-old's name into his lineup against the Rays.
"I get the word 'great,'" Girardi said.
Jeter showed signs that his ankle was bothering him in a 6-4 loss to the Orioles, particularly as he legged out an infield single in the fifth that game him sole possession of 10th place on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Willie Mays. Jeter also singled in the eighth and scored on Alex Rodriguez's homer.
Both Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman believe Jeter will play through pain for the remainder of the year, as the bone bruise is expected to heal only with extended rest. So for the series opener against Tampa Bay, rest meant Jeter served as designated hitter for the Yankees, with Eduardo Nunez in his place at shortstop.
"You're constantly thinking of ways to help him through this thing, and one way is to score a lot of runs and pull him out, or get ourselves a big lead and pull away from Baltimore and Tampa Bay and pull him out," Cashman said. "If we want to help Derek Jeter, we have to win as many games as we can so we can rest Derek Jeter. But Derek Jeter will tell you, 'If you want to help me, shut the blank up, write my name in the lineup and let me get my hits and help us win.'"
Jeter was reluctant to discuss his injury but said he told Girardi he could play shortstop.
"I don't talk about it," Jeter said. "You either play or you don't, and I'm playing."
The Yankees' only day off before the end of the season is Monday, and Girardi said there is no indication that Jeter's ankle would be better if he sat all three games of their weekend series with the Rays and then on Monday's day off. But he does believe Jeter felt better Friday than he did Thursday, when he drove in one of New York's two runs in a win against the Red Sox -- a result of looking in Jeter's eyes when they spoke, not any open or honest assessment from the Yankees' captain.
"He's swung the bat and been such a force for us in the lineup," Girardi said. "We're not asking him to cover ground in the field. We're asking him to get on base and try to score some runs. ... There's been DHs that are on two healthy feet that are slower than him, and we run them out there a lot. It's just something we have to manage."