BALTIMORE — Derek Jeter began the season on the disabled list, and that is how it will end.
The New York Yankees shortstop will miss the rest of the season after being placed on the disabled list Wednesday with an ankle injury.
Jeter, 39, last played Saturday against Boston. He was removed for a pinch runner after hurting his left ankle, and although a CT scan was negative, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the injury will need significant time to heal.
“You have to let the pain dissipate and then give it a chance to let the ankle strengthen back up,” Cashman said. “We’re just not going to have the time to do that in any capacity right now. It puts him in a vulnerable situation and risks re-injury or further injury. And that’s not something we are willing to do.”
Jeter started the year on the disabled list after breaking his left ankle in the 2012 playoffs. He returned to the DL twice more and played in only 17 games, batting .190 with one homer and seven RBIs. And now, he’s been shelved for a fourth time.
“This entire season has been a nightmare for me physically,” Jeter said. “It’s a fitting end.”
His departure comes with New York in the thick of the AL wild-card hunt.
“It’s very disappointing not to be able to play, especially at this time of year,” Jeter said. “This is when I want to play the most.”
The current ankle injury is likely related to the one that occurred last October in the ALCS against Detroit.
“There is no new medical information other than the fact there were conversations that he has pain most likely stemming from weakness surrounding the bone, the muscles, tendons and ligaments, and it was not going to solve itself anytime soon,” Cashman said.
“And he would be vulnerable. Something’s going to give the more we run him out there. So we feel it’s best to shut him down. Let him prepare for next year. That’s the safest thing to do.”
Next year? Cashman is certain of it.
“I have not thought I have watched his last game,” he said. “Not one time.”
Jeter hasn’t abandoned hope of returning, either, even though he will turn 40 on June 26, 2014.
“I truly believe with a full offseason, working out and getting my strength back that I can get back to doing what I always have,” he said. “I don’t think you think about the end of anything,” Jeter said. “Our job is to get ready to play. I tried to come back this year as quickly as possible. Maybe that was not the best thing to do. My job now is to get ready for next year. And I have to do that.”
New York’s career hits leader with 3,316, Jeter made his season debut on July 11 but hurt himself in that game and returned to the disabled list on July 19 (retroactive to July 12) with a right quad strain. After being activated on July 28, he was placed on the DL on Aug. 5 with a strained right calf.
Jeter was a regular in the lineup after his return on Aug. 26, but now he’s done for good.
“I think it’s just a matter of me not having any strength,” Jeter said. “I have not been able to work out my legs or lift my legs since October of last year. I really think it’s from lack of strength. When I came back, I had two other leg issues because of weakness there. I’ll have a whole offseason to get back to being able to work out. “
Brendan Ryan, obtained in a trade with Seattle on Tuesday, was in the starting lineup at shortstop against the Orioles on Wednesday night.