The New York Yankees might be minus Derek Jeter on opening day.
The star shortstop missed his second straight exhibition game Wednesday because of inflammation in his surgically repaired left ankle. General manager Brian Cashman said there was a chance Jeter could begin the season on the disabled list.
"At this stage, I just don't know, so all I can do is acknowledge it's a possibility," Cashman said.
The 38-year-old Jeter received an anti-inflammatory injection in his ankle. The Yankees start the regular season April 1 at home against Boston.
"We've got to do what's right for him," Cashman said. "Whatever's right for him will be right for us. I'm not saying he's going to be DLed, but I can't tell you it won't be. I don't think it's anything serious, I just think it's a timing issue."
Jeter broke his ankle last year in the first game of the AL championship series against Detroit. He waited a while before making his debut in a spring training game, starting out as a designated hitter on March 9 and later playing in the field for the first time.
"We've got to be in a position where he plays a full nine innings of defence, and be able to do back to back [games] and all this other stuff," Cashman said. "We'll see how he responds, but I can't give you certainty now that what he's just experienced isn't going to push it back a little bit."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it would be "weird" not seeing Jeter in the season opener.
"It's going to feel different," Girardi said. "It's kind of strange."
Cashman says he doesn't know when Jeter will resume playing in spring training games. He was removed from the lineup against Philadelphia on Tuesday for "precautionary" reasons because his ankle felt stiff.
The 13-time All-Star is 3 for 11 so far. The team captain led the American League with 216 hits and batted .316 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs last year.
"The doctor said, basically, you can experience a lot of different things along the pathway, so it's not a surprise," Cashman said. "His rehab has gone extremely well, but obviously after the back to back, it barked a little bit. He's going to have ups and downs in the early portion of it, but eventually at some point he'll be past this. We've just got to make sure we take the right steps so it's eventually behind him."
Cashman said Jeter was sent home after getting the injection and was not at George Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday.
'Get him going again'
"Let the shot take its course and see where he's at over the next few days," Cashman said.
"After you get a feel for how he's feeling, then we'll start it up and get him going again. Because of who he is, I can't count anything out. Opening day is just a date. What's more important is how he feels and be in a position to do what he's capable of doing on a consistent basis," he said.
Eduardo Nunez would replace Jeter at shortstop if he's not ready for the opener. Nunez feels no added pressure, saying there will be "nobody like Derek Jeter."
"I'll do my best," Nunez said.
Pitcher Andy Pettitte figures Jeter is "frustrated" by the situation.
"I know it's tough," Pettitte said. "I think the doctors are saying everything is good. So, I think it's just the process of getting everything strong and getting everything where it needs to be."
The Yankees have been hit hard by injuries this year. Outfielder Curtis Granderson is out until at least May with a broken right forearm, while first baseman Mark Teixeira says he could miss up to two months due to a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez might return in July following hip surgery.
"These are obstacles you deal with, and you find ways to get over it ... that's it," Cashman said. "We will. We're not going to allow this to bury us."
Opening day starter CC Sabathia is coming back from left elbow bone spur surgery and closer Mariano Rivera had knee surgery last year.