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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Derek Jeter's recovery from a broken left ankle is going well and he should be ready for Opening Day.
Cashman made his comments after the New York Post ran a headline of "Derek Eater" and "Captain Munch" based off a recent photo taken in Miami. In the shot, Jeter looks as if he's sporting a gut.
"I saw that the picture said he was heavy. I can't tell you he is heavy," Cashman said early Friday in Stamford, Conn., where he and former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine were to rappel off a building in preparation for a holiday event. "Even if he was, I'm not worried about Derek Jeter in that capacity in any way. You are not going to find anybody more committed to being the best he can be than Derek Jeter."
Cashman said that there has been no word of Jeter gaining weight. Since breaking the ankle in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series, the 38-year-old Jeter has been unable to work out.
"You can't speed up the healing process," Cashman said. "Right now, the doctors' orders are rest. So I have no worries about Derek Jeter. There is nothing about Derek Jeter that I have to worry other than rest."
Meanwhile, now that catcher Russell Martin has signed with the Pirates, Cashman's offseason priority is finding a new right fielder to replace Nick Swisher. Cashman said the Yankees' every-day catcher is on the current roster -- Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart or Austin Romine.
However, Romine, a top prospect, more likely is headed for Triple-A to start the season, Cashman said.
"In terms of catching and throwing and running games, I'd line those guys up with some of the best catchers in the game on the defensive side, game-planning and handling a pitching staff," Cashman said. "The bats, a couple of those guys, have the potential to become every-day catchers because of their bats if they develop.
"Other guys are really more backup oriented."
Stewart served as Martin's backup last season, while Cervelli held that job the year before. Another candidate is Eli Whiteside, who was designated for assignment but could return to the organization.
Sources have said the Yankees are unlikely to go after free agent A.J. Pierzynski, and they are not discussing Mike Napoli.
The Yankees never made an offer to Martin, knowing that they were unwilling to match the Pirates' bid of two years for $17 million.
"I like Russell Martin," Cashman said. "I'm a big Russell Martin fan. We have a lot of holes to fill and we have to be very careful in how we spend our money. The market for Russell was aggressive, as it should have been, and, again, our focus has been on our pitching, and after that I have a lot of different holes to fill."
Every decision the Yankees make is predicated on trying to get their payroll under $189 million by next year to take advantage of opportunities to pay less luxury tax under the new collective bargaining agreement.
"Despite the limitation of $189 million, if you want to call it a limitation, we do the $189 million, it is still the highest payroll in baseball, period," Cashman said. "If you follow the math and look of how things can unfold and come off the board and stuff like that, you can see that things can fit. We'll be aggressive when we want to be on the right circumstances.
"But it is in our best interest to stay as flexible as possible given a lot of reasons . . . We are still capable of a lot. People should still be leery of us and afraid of us as the stalking horse and that's good. I want them to think that."