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Girardi won't count Jeter out for Opening Day

Girardi won't count Jeter out for Opening Day

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Girardi won't count Jeter out for Opening Day
NEW YORK -- The Yankees are not certain if they will have Derek Jeter at shortstop by Opening Day, but manager Joe Girardi isn't counting the captain out.

Jeter had surgery in late October to repair a fractured left ankle, and following the procedure, the Yankees estimated that Jeter would need four to five months to make a full recovery.

"I think there's a little bit of a question, but I think he'll find a way," Girardi said on Thursday. "That's who he is."

Jeter fractured the ankle on Oct. 13 lunging for a 12th-inning ground ball in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, though he had been playing on a weakened ankle for some time.

The 38-year-old is in Tampa, Fla., and is said to be keeping weight off his ankle until January, which will likely delay some of his normal offseason program.

"You have to get to full strength, and maybe you're not able to start doing the things you normally would in January," Girardi said. "I mean, it could be, but I think he'll find a way."

If Jeter can return in four months from the date of the surgery, he would be in action on Feb. 20 -- in time for the Grapefruit League Spring Training schedule -- but a setback of five months places him at March 20, which would probably be too late to be ready for Opening Day.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that he plans to have Jeter as the club's everyday shortstop in 2013. Girardi said he has talked with Jeter "a little bit" since the season ended.

"I think his mood's OK," Girardi said. "Derek always finds a way to deal with what he's going through."

The Yankees are scheduled to open the 2013 season on April 1 at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox. Jeter hasn't missed an Opening Day start since he sat with a strained right quadriceps in 2001.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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