Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 7/11/13
Derek Jeter wasn't supposed to return to the Yankees until Friday. In typical 2013 Yankees fashion, though, injuries have forced New York's hand. With Travis Hafner getting hurt Wednesday night and Brett Gardner nursing a bad ankle, the Yankees are bringing Jeter back at day early, activating him from the 60-day disabled list and hitting him second as the team's designated hitter this afternoon against Kansas City. The Yankees have somehow hung around in both the AL East and AL Wildcard races despite fielding one of baseball's most punchless lineups in the absence of Jeter (among others). They enter Thursday ranking 11th in the American League in runs scored (358), 12th in home runs (87), 14th in hits (735, ahead of only Houston) and 13th in OPS (.683). Production from Jeter's replacements has been even worse: Yankees shortstops are hitting just .211/.269/.283 this season -- only Seattle (.202/.264/.285) has seen worse hitting from that position, thanks to Brendan Ryan. Even if Jeter's ankle prohibits him from playing too many innings in the field, he'll likely be an improvement over who the Yankees have used at DH, too -- New York has seen a line of just .213/.301/.373 from that spot in the order. Yet here they sit at 49-42, six games behind division-leading Boston and just 2.5 games behind Tampa Bay for a wildcard spot. Jeter may not be the Jeter of old, but the New York offense has been so hard to watch that he should make the lineup significantly better, even if his ankle isn't 100%. Travis Ishikawa was designated for assignment to make room for Jeter. Ishikawa appeared in just one game with the Yankees, striking out in both of his plate appearances. He signed on with New York after being cut loose by Baltimore, going 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts in 18 plate appearances with the O's. He had been raking at Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .316/.413/.525 in 49 games there. Jeter was originally scheduled to DH for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today, which is part of the reason they're easing him into that spot for his return. Joe Girardi did say, however, that Jeter could return to playing shortstop tomorrow. Jeter went 1-for-9 with four walks in four rehab games in Triple-A. [follow]

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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