Yankees' Jeter plans to be ready for opener

TAMPA — Yankees SS Derek Jeter may not play the first few weeks of spring training due to his surgically repaired left ankle, but he still expects to be ready by opening day.

"Why wouldn't it be realistic?" Jeter said. "I broke my ankle in October. It has been quite some time. I'm right where I'm supposed to be up until this point. The ankle has healed perfectly. Now, it is just a matter of getting everything else in shape. … I'm going to have to push myself, but opening day has been the goal all along."

Jeter, who turns 39 in June, was injured in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. He said he has been cleared to do every type of physical activity. He plans to run on grass for the first time in the coming days, though he estimated it could take two to three weeks before he gets into a spring game.

The slow recovery and rehab tested Jeter's patience during an "absolutely terrible" offseason, in which he was glued to the couch for five or six weeks and used a motorized scooter to get around.

"You've got to learn to walk again, so in that sense physically it was a challenge, and then mentally it's a challenge when you sit on the couch and you can't get anywhere," Jeter said. "It was not fun."

But Jeter believes he can be the same productive player he has been in the past.

"As much as I'd like to be getting younger, I'm not," he said. "Everybody's getting older. There's always going to be questions, there always has been questions. I don't mind that. But it's not like I go out saying, 'I've got to prove something.' I just want to continue to improve. That's just the approach I've always taken."

Jays: Tricky Dickey

DUNEDIN — R.A. Dickey threw a fastball at about 84 mph, freezing Brett Lawrie.

"Right down the pipe!" Toronto's third baseman said as a few teammates around the batting cage laughed.

Known for his knuckleball, Dickey can mix in a fastball not noted for its velocity.

"That can be a weapon, too, if you use it in the right place, if a guy has tracked 10 or 11 knuckleballs in a row," he said. "When you throw a fastball in there, it's a whole different animal. It looks a lot harder than it really is, so you can play with the optical illusion from time to time."

COOPER OUT: 1B David Cooper won't be at spring training due to a serious back injury, the club announced. Cooper is seeing specialists, hoping for help with a disc issue.

Phils: Done shopping

CLEARWATER — The Phillies' starting rotation may appear to have an opening, but don't expect the team to make a bid for free-agent RHP Kyle Lohse, general manager Ruben Amaro told mlb.com.

"I think we're going into the spring with what we've got right now," Amaro said. "It's subject to change always, but we're going to see these guys."

Amaro told the website that he sees RHP Kyle Kendrick and LHP John Lannan as the fourth and fifth starters.

Around the nation

HELTON SORRY: Calling his recent drunk driving charge a "monumental mistake," Rockies 1B Todd Helton fought tears as he apologized and asked for forgiveness at the start of spring training. Helton said he had never had a DUI problem before his Feb. 6 arrest.

GARZA SLOWED: Cubs RHP and former Ray Matt Garza cut short his first live batting practice session and left the field holding his left side.

SANTANA'S COMEBACK: Mets LHP Johan Santana threw off a mound for the first time since being shut down in August with lower back inflammation and said he expects to be ready for opening day.

CHIPPER RETURNS: Former Braves 3B Chipper Jones reported to camp as a special instructor, working with former teammates and shrugging off those who called him "coach."

BREWERS: 1B Mat Gamel, held out of drills a day after he aggravated his surgically repaired right knee, could return to his normal spring routine today.

TIGERS: OF Brennan Boesch tweaked his right oblique muscle but said he hopes to return to action within a day or two.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

.Fast Facts

Blue Jays

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin

Tickets: (727) 733-0429, bluejays.com

Phillies

Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Tickets: (727) 467-4457, phillies.com

Yankees

Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive (corner Martin Luther King and Dale Mabry), Tampa Tickets: (813) 879-2244, yankees.com

Yankees' Jeter plans to be ready for opener 02/17/13 [Last modified: Sunday, February 17, 2013 8:33pm]

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