Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/12/13
He is Derek Jeter so of course he was going to make it back for Opening Day. And when he refractured his left ankle the recalibration was to early in the second half — ahead of schedule for sure — to help save the Yankees’ season. Jeter wasn’t going to be stopped by quad and calf setbacks and even this latest ankle misery hardly diluted the belief that somehow some way he was going to make it back to deliver the hit Sept. 29 in Houston that put the Yankees in the playoffs. This has been Jeter for nearly two decades now making anything seem possible when it came to him. Man. Superman. Myth. Flying into stands flipping balls backhanded homering off David Price for hit 3000. But in the end this isn’t Hollywood scripted with the happy ending. The 2013 season never played out how Jeter expected. Instead it was “a nightmare.” His words. Jeter played fewer games for the Yanks at short than Eduardo Nunez Jayson Nix Reid Brignac and — probably by the end of the season — Brendan Ryan too. He hit .190 and made Alex Rodriguez look sturdy by comparison. Yet when the end of his 2013 season was made official yesterday a true believer line already was forming that has Jeter on the field Opening Day 2014 — led naturally by the uber-optimistic Jeter himself. “There is no doubt in my mind that I will get back to where I was” Jeter said. But there was a chorus. Joe Girardi: “What is inside Derek is special. I will never doubt Derek.” Brian Cashman: “I have not watched [Jeter’s] last game. No one has.” I hope they are right. The best story is Jeter coming back adding to the mythology. He certainly has brought enough to the game — done it with grace and dignity — that it would feel right for him to head to the exit on something closer to his terms not a limp. But if this were not Derek Jeter — man Superman myth — would we just dismiss a return to play shortstop regularly as fantasy? He would play in his age-40 season in 2014 and here is the entire list of those with 100 games in a season at shortstop at that age or older: Honus Wagner Luke Appling Omar Vizquel. None was coming off anything like a twice-fractured ankle. Jeter believes the root of all of these problems was an inability to strengthen the leg last offseason as he had to mainly rest to let the first fracture heal. That may be true. But how do you ignore the calendar and the years of residual punishment on those legs?
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