TAMPA, Fla. — Derek Jeter has cleared his final rehab hurdle.
Monday morning, two weeks after he began on-field baseball activities, Jeter ran indoors on a treadmill.
It marked the first time the 38-year-old Yankees shortstop tested his surgically repaired left ankle, which he broke in Game 1 of the ALCS, in that way.
“We’re just progressing right where I need to be,” Jeter said later in the morning from his car as he left the Yankees’ minor-league complex. “I’ve gotten the OK to do everything now.”
Asked how the running went, Jeter smiled and replied: “Great.”
“I feel fine,” said Jeter who, along with the Yankees, has maintained since he had surgery Oct. 20 that he’d be ready for the season opener April 1 against Boston. “I was able to do everything else (in the offseason), I just had to be careful with the ankle. But now I’ve gotten the green light with that (running), so I’m (all set). I’ve gotten all the green lights I need.”
Curtis Granderson, who arrived in Tampa on Sunday night and came to the minor-league complex Monday to work out, saw Jeter on the treadmill and forgot for a moment his teammate was coming off major ankle injury.
“He was on there and I just came up and we were talking and I didn’t think about that (the ankle) because he wasn’t hobbling around or wincing in pain or making any of those gestures,” said Granderson, who is entering the final year of his contract. “So to me, it looked like he was just warming up, getting himself ready to go. He’s definitely (doing) a lot of stuff.”
Jeter started hitting in the cage and fielding grounders on the infield grass Jan. 28 and he repeated the routine Monday in addition to the running. While fielding grounders, Jeter moved a bit more laterally than he had the past two weeks, part of his typical pre-spring training routine, he said.
“It’s all a progression,” Jeter said. “Even if I didn’t break my ankle, there’s steps to it. This is just another step in the process that I would be doing anyway. When I originally start taking ground balls, I take them on the grass and then I don’t move (laterally). Then I take them on the grass and I start to move, then I back up. It’s all the same as years before.”
Only this spring, because of the injury, will be one in which general manager Brian Cashman said “guardrails” will be up for the shortstop to ensure he doesn’t do too much too soon. The goal, as all involved have said, is Jeter being ready for Opening Day, not the exhibition opener in 11 days.
“There’s no number,” Jeter said of a preferred number of spring at-bats. “I’ve been in spring trainings where I’ve gotten a lot, I’ve been in spring trainings where I’ve been with the WBC (World Baseball Classic) where I haven’t gotten many. So I don’t think there’s a particular number, I think it’s just when you feel comfortable. Get off to a good start, they say you don’t need a lot of at-bats; you don’t, they say you need more.”
Notes & quotes: David Aardsma, who spent most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery — he healed in time to make one appearance in September — is looking forward to competing for a bullpen spot. “I’m excited about it,” said Aardsma, who saved a combined 69 games for the Mariners in 2009 and 2010. “Ready to get going and have a real spring training for once.” The Yankees signed Aardsma last spring with the idea of having him healthy in time to be a part of this year’s bullpen. “I feel normal,” said Aardsma, 31. “I feel like the same spot I used to be in in spring training. It’s coming together.” … Hiroki Kuroda was among the new faces at the minor-league complex … Yankees pitchers and catchers report Tuesday morning, with most having their physicals then, and the first workout is Wednesday.
MLB NOTEBOOK: The Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians signed pitchers on Sunday, but there is a holdup regarding the Seattle Mariners’ deal with right-handed ace Felix Hernandez.
The Mariners are no closer to completing a seven-year, $175 million contract extension for Hernandez because of concerns with the condition of his throwing elbow, ESPN reported Sunday.
Hernandez is skipping the World Baseball Classic, mainly because of the pending record-setting deal, according to CBS Sports. Hernandez is listed on Venezuela’s provisional roster.
It has not been reported what the exact nature of the concern is over Hernandez’s elbow.
The Mariners could protect themselves by stipulating medical exceptions in the contract, much like the New York Yankees did when they signed ace CC Sabathia to an extension late in 2011.
Hernandez still has two years left on his contract with the Mariners.