All winter long, Derek Jeter insisted he would be back by opening day. Now the goal is after the All-Star break.
The Yankees captain fractured his left ankle for a second time in six months, a blow to a New York team already reeling from injuries and one that raises long-term questions about the future of a shortstop who will be 39 when he returns.
"It's not what we wanted, that's for sure," manager Joe Girardi after Thursday night's 6-2, 12-inning loss to Arizona. "I know it's extremely disappointing for him because he's so used to being here with us.
"It's something that we're going to have to fight through, so guys are really going to have to step up in his absence and, hopefully, we'll get him back sometime after the All-Star break."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Jeter should be able to resume his rehabilitation when the new crack heals, in about four to eight weeks. Cashman has repeatedly maintained the 13-time All-Star should be able to return at his previous level of play.
Jeter will not require surgery for the break, Cashman said after speaking with Dr. Robert Anderson, who operated on him last Oct. 20.
"He told me 95 percent of the people that have this, they come back from it fine. You just have to back off," Cashman said.
"But it's a setback, so it's not a good situation," he said.
Then again, the Yankees and Jeter repeatedly said his rehab was going well. And Jeter, whose range already has declined, turns 39 on June 26.
He was hurt last Oct. 13 in the AL championship series opener against Detroit. He was limited to five spring training games and 11 at-bats, and when the team left spring training he stayed behind for rehabilitation at New York's minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.
After three straight days of workouts, Jeter went to Charlotte, N.C., and was examined Thursday by Anderson.
"They did a new CT scan which revealed a small crack in the area of the previous injury, so we have to back off and let that heal," Cashman said. "This is obviously a setback. In terms of speculating on when we might see Derek back with us, we'd be looking at some time after the All-Star break."
Cashman himself is recovering from a broken leg sustained in a spring training skydiving accident and entered the press conference room at Yankee Stadium in a motorized scooter.
"Clearly he hasn't done anything wrong," the GM said. "He was cleared to play. This is the third CT scan he's had. His prior two CT scans showed the healing and 100 percent healing. He wasn't cleared for the baseball activities and cleared to play until he had 100 percent healing, so this is a new fracture, but a small one. That's I guess the only good part. They kept saying the word 'small.'"
Jeter is among four regulars missing from the Yankees' lineup, a group that totals 32 All-Star appearances. The defending AL East champions are 8-6 after Thursday's loss.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson broke his right forearm when hit by a pitch from Toronto's J.A. Happ in his first at-bat of spring training on Feb. 24 and is expected back next month.
First baseman Mark Teixeira also hopes to return in May from a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist sustained March 5 while with the U.S. team at the World Baseball Classic.
And third baseman Alex Rodriguez isn't expected back until after the All-Star break following left hip surgery on Jan. 16.
Jeter didn't play in his first spring training game until March 9, played again March 11 and returned to shortstop for the first time on March 13. After playing the field for consecutive days on March 15-16, he felt soreness. He was scratched from the starting lineup on March 19 and had an anti-inflammatory injection.
"He's obviously the toughest one we've ever had, and when Derek Jeter continues to have issues that don't go away, that means more than just your typical something," Cashman said. "So that's what led to the follow-up with Dr. Anderson in Charlotte."
Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix have split most of the time at shortstop this season, with Robinson Cano shifting over for one inning. Nix has two errors and Nunez one.
Last year, Nunez had fielding foibles when the Yankees shifted him among shortstop, third base and the outfield.
"I hope that he comes back well, healthy," Nunez said, adding that he would be comfortable playing the whole season. "Of course. I've been looking forward all my life."
Cashman said the Yankees do not anticipate making a trade for another shortstop. Manager Joe Girardi was pleased with Nunez's play as Jeter's primary replacement. Nunez began the night with a .240 batting average and two RBIs.
"I know he had his issues last year, but I think he's played a good shortstop for us. I think he's swung the bat OK for us," Girardi said.
NOTES: Francisco Cervelli hit a tying home run off J.J. Putz in the ninth, but Cody Ross had a go-ahead single against David Phelps (0-1) in the 12th and former Yankee Eric Chavez followed with a three-run double. Robinson Cano also homered, and Phil Hughes gave up a pair of solo homers and six hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Cervelli was called for catcher's interference twice. ... Cervelli was the first catcher called for interference twice in a game since Seattle's Adam Moore on April 11, 2010, according to STATS. ... Yankees RF Ichiro Suzuki started against a left-hander for the first time since opening day. ... It was the 90th anniversary of the opening of the original Yankee Stadium. After setting record-low attendances for new Yankee Stadium on Friday (35,033), Sunday (34,154) and Tuesday (34,107), New York drew 36,033 for the homestand finale.