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Jeter essentially starting Spring Training over

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DETROIT -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter took 41 ground balls hit directly at him on the grass near the left-field fence at the club's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday morning, according to The Associated Press.

If that update sounds familiar, it is because Jeter went through similar activities back on Feb. 11. All signs indicate that the 38-year-old is essentially starting Spring Training over after a March 23 setback with his surgically repaired left ankle.

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Jeter also hit flipped baseballs and off a tee on Saturday, and played long toss. Jeter has not played in a game since the March 23 Minor League game in which he grounded out four times and later reported soreness in his ankle.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi viewed the latest update as some measure of progress.

"Well, he's on the field," Girardi said. "He took some ground balls at him, so that's better than where he was last week, or even Thursday."

The Yankees have declined to offer an official projected date for Jeter's first big league game of the year after he was unable to meet his goal of playing Opening Day, but May 1 has been tossed around as a possible target.

Jeter was eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday, but that was not an option for the Yankees. Girardi said that Jeter will "have to go through somewhat of a Spring Training," meaning that he is weeks and not simply days away.

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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