Season of truth for Hal Steinbrenner

Updated: March 22, 2013, 9:47 AM ET
By Buster Olney

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman did what good teammates should always do when speaking with reporters about Derek Jeter's status for the start of the season, noting the best-case scenario and Jeter's past healing power, saying he'd never doubt Jeter.

But Cashman also acknowledged the possibility that Jeter will open the year on the disabled list, because the fact is that he's running out of time. CC Sabathia will throw the first pitch of the Yankees' season in 11 days, and the fact is that Jeter -- coming back from a major ankle injury at age 38 -- hasn't played more than five innings in any exhibition, and the stress of even that reduced workload created soreness that he found untenable. Jeter got a cortisone injection and won't be on the field for a few days, in all likelihood, so the idea that he'll be able to build up his physical strength and comfort in a week's time to play nine innings day after day, once baseball's relentless schedule begins, is a stretch.

The Yankees have to hope that Jeter comes back as soon as possible, and as John Kruk said on our broadcast Tuesday, it has been a long time since we've seen this team go into a season relying so much on hope -- at short, at first base, in a couple of outfield spots, at catcher. Our researcher Katie Sharp dug this out: The last time the Yankees failed to rank in the top 10 in runs scored was in 1991, when they finished 16th, with 674 runs.

This may well be the summer that we learn a lot about Hal Steinbrenner. We've already known for years that's he's not his father, because the Yankees haven't been firing coaches and demoting young pitchers and because Hal hasn't once issued proclamations invoking Patton. Yankees' employees aren't required to work on national holidays anymore.