Less than a month before the New York Yankees report to spring training, their captain has finally received some good news on his bothersome left ankle.

Derek Jeter went through on-field workouts for the first time since the 2013 MLB season on Jan. 20, fielding grounders and going through typical baseball activities, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). The workout, while minimal, represents a huge step for Jeter as he looks to return from what can only be described as the worst year of his baseball career.

“I don’t think about it, and that’s a good thing,” Jeter said. “It’s good to have a normal offseason and get some work in. Everything is normal now.”

Jeter first broke his ankle in Game 1 of the Yankees’ 2012 ALCS matchup with the Detroit Tigers. Expected to return for the beginning of the 2013 regular season, Jeter instead broke the ankle again in April and sat out until July. A calf injury compounded the mounting series of leg ailments, and then he re-injured the ankle one more time in September to cut his season short.

In total, Jeter played only 17 games. It was the first time in his career he had ever missed more than 50 games in a season and only the second time in his career he had suited up for fewer than 130 contests. While Jeter’s season never really got off the ground, it was a miserable affair during his short period on the field. He had only 12 hits in 63 at-bats (.190 batting average), hit a single home run and didn’t steal a base.

Per FanGraphs, Jeter’s wins above replacement (WAR) was negative for the first time in his career—excluding his shortened 1995 big league stay that doesn’t count toward his service time.

The 2013 season also proved disappointing for the Yankees, as they missed the playoffs for just the second time since 1994. They looked to rectify that during the offseason by signing Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, but Jeter’s pinstriped teammates have undergone more changes than possibly ever before.

Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera retired, leaving Jeter the last member of the “core four.” The Seattle Mariners outbid the Yankees in the Robinson Cano chase. With Alex Rodriguez suspended for the 2014 season, barring a successful appeal, Jeter’s two longest-running infield mates will be gone this season.

Jeter turns 40 in June, and it’s clear the times are changing in the Bronx. It will be interesting to see whether he’ll be able to stick around this season to be a part of it.


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