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"I don't think he was playing on a stress fracture, but I think the weakness in his ankle, and the foul tip off his foot, contributed to that,'' Girardi said. "You hear a lot of guys talk about when they sprain one ankle, they usually hurt something else. I think it's inevitable, if you continue to play with something hurt, you're probably going to end up hurting yourself somewhere else.''
Jeter has refused to say how he originally suffered the injury, which first troubled him during a road trip against the Tampa Bay Rays on Labor Day. He aggravated it later by fouling a ball off it in Boston in mid-September, and injured the same ankle, in a different place, in the last game of the regular season against the Red Sox. At the time, Girardi termed the injury a "bone bruise.''
In the early hours of Sunday morning, after X-rays at Yankee Stadium revealed Jeter had fractured the ankle while fielding Jhonny Peralta's grounder in a game the Yankees went on to lose 6-4, general manager Brian Cashman said he believed the injury was related to Jeter's earlier ankle injuries.
"It very well could be related,'' Cashman said. "He's been so banged up with that foot, I would think it is related, yeah.''
Despite the pain the injury had been causing him -- Jeter was often visibly hobbling while running the bases or leaving the field between innings -- Jeter was batting .364 in the postseason, the highest of any regular in the Yankees lineup.
"He's tough,'' Girardi said. "That's the only way I can describe it. He's tough."
Girardi said Jeter ordered him not to cart him off the field."He said, 'Do not carry me,' '' the manager said. Jeter left the field with his shoulders supported by Girardi and team trainer Steve Donohue, a gesture Jeter felt was important for the morale of the team.
"That's who he is,'' Girardi said. "He sends messages through the way he plays a lot of times, the way he goes about his business. He's going to have his conversations one-on-one with people, but he sends a message every day by the way he goes about his life. He was sending a message, 'We're going to be fine.' "
Girardi maintained that the team expects Jeter, 38, to be ready by the start of spring training in February.
Girardi said a conversation with Jeter on Sunday morning revealed the injured shortstop to be "in good spirits.''
"He wants to be out there, but it's Derek, so he'll play it off, obviously,' Girardi said. "He'll be the tough guy, mentally and physically, that he always is. But this is what he lives for."Information from ESPNNewYork.com contributor Mike Mazzeo was used in this report.