Roughly eight months after he fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, Derek Jeter was back on a baseball field Saturday night, facing live pitching in a game situation.
The 13-time All-Star went 0-for-2 with a walk and handled the one ground ball hit to him at shortstop as he began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a 4-2 victory over Lehigh Valley.
Jeter said after the game that his primary objective was seeing how his body would respond.
"I just wanted to see pitches and just get back out there. I pretty much tested [the ankle] down in Florida the last couple weeks, I just have to get used to game situations," he said.
The 39-year-old shortstop drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning, lined to the third and grounded out in the fourth. He reportedly ran well to first on the groundout, then left for a defensive replacement after the fifth.
After missing more than half the season, Jeter is anxious to return to the second-place Yankees, who edged the Orioles, 5-4, on Saturday for their sixth straight win.
"I want to play. I'm ready to play, but I understand I have to play some games here," he said. "But I look forward to getting back as soon as I can."
After playing before a sellout crowd of 10,000 at PNC Field, Jeter is slated to serve as the RailRiders' designated hitter on Sunday. Where he plays next week is uncertain.
"If [the Yankees] were basing it on what I told them, I'd be playing today," Jeter said before the game.
Jeter wasn't the only notable Yankee rehabbing with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Making his fifth Minor League start after stints with Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton, Michael Pineda (1-0) gave up two runs on four hits over five innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
The 24-year-old right-hander went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA as a rookie with the Mariners in 2011 coming to New York in the trade that sent Jesus Montero to Seatle. He underwent shoulder surgery shortly thereafter and has yet to make a big league appearance as a Yankee.
In those five Minor League starts, Pineda is 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 22 1/3 innings.
"I'm excited, I'm feeling good, everything is good," he said after the game. "Very long process. My slider, my changeup [were] good, just some trouble in the first inning but made adjustments and go back to pitching. My arm is great.
"I'm so excited today because I see Jeter, to play together with him. This guy is a great player and when I got traded I said, 'Wow, I wanna pitch in the same game when this guy is at shortstop.'"
Thomas Neal led the RailRiders offensively, going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Randy Ruiz drove in the other run.