"This continues to tell you that it's just not ready yet for the full duties," Cashman said. "Obviously, it's looking more likely than not that he will start the season on the DL, and a more realistic goal is April 6."
With Jeter likely to begin the year on the disabled list, Cashman said that the Yankees' plan is to go with Eduardo Nunez as the everyday shortstop to begin the season.
Jeter had a cortisone injection in his ankle after being scratched from a game against the Phillies on Tuesday and returned to action in a Minor League game on Saturday, grounding out four times for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He did not run at full speed down the base line on any of the four grounders. Jeter told team medical staff on Sunday morning that the soreness had moved from the front of his ankle to the back, a sign that he has been compensating for the injury.
"He's feeling more discomfort in a different spot," Cashman said. "He realizes that things are happening, the Opening Day schedule is approaching and he's not 100 percent just yet. I think the reality is setting in."
Cashman said that if Jeter begins the year on the disabled list, he would stay behind in Florida to continue working out and playing in games while the team travels north for the April 1 opener against the Red Sox.
Jeter will not rejoin the Yankees unless he proves that he can play in back-to-back nine-inning games as a shortstop without discomfort, according to Cashman, who said that the Yankees would not bring Jeter back as only a designated hitter.
"I've met with Derek Jeter today. I told him what I think, and he didn't fight me on it," Cashman said. "That's reality. I saw his face, too. It doesn't mean he's not still hopeful [of playing Opening Day], but I think he's less hopeful today than he was two days ago."
Jeter has played in 16 of the Yankees' last 17 openers. He missed Opening Day in 2001, when Luis Sojo filled in at shortstop while Jeter was mending a quadriceps injury on the disabled list.
Jeter fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium, an injury that required a metal plate and four screws to be inserted in his ankle, and he had experienced a relatively uneventful rehab to this point.
At the time of the injury and the subsequent procedure, Cashman and the Yankees' medical staff strongly insisted that Jeter would be ready to play shortstop on Opening Day.
"Well, we were wrong," Cashman said.