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SAN DIEGO – Derek Jeter always chooses his words carefully, and the word he chose to describe his 2013 season was both carefully-chosen and wholly appropriate.
"It's been terrible," Jeter said after the Yankees lost 6-3 to the Padres on Sunday, game he had to watch from a trainer's table as he got treatment on his strained right calf. "It's been like a nightmare. The whole season has been a nightmare. I wish that wasn't the case and we were sitting here talking about something besides another injury. We'll see what happens. I have no idea."
An MRI performed Saturday night revealed a Grade 1 strain of the calf, the same injury that cost him three weeks last season as he was pursuing his 3,000th hit. The Yankees have not made a decision on whether Jeter, 39, is headed back to the disabled list, but from the look on Jeter's face it seemed as if such a trip was highly possible, if not likely.
"I'll see what they say," Jeter said. "It's up to them. Of course, I'd like to not do it, but I understand any situation that they have."
Jeter said he first felt the injury on Monday, the morning after his first game back from his latest DL stint for a strained right quad. Still, he played three more games, two in Los Angeles and the first game of this series Friday night before manager Joe Girardi announced he would not play for the rest of the weekend.
"I can't tell you what that means, what we're going to do," Girardi said. "We'll see how he is [Monday] and go from there. I'm not so sure what we're going to do just because of where we're at this time of year."
The Yankees lost two of three games to the Padres and have fallen 9½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East race, and into a fourth-place tie with the Kansas City Royals for the second wild-card spot. Under those conditions, the Yankees might be tempted to keep Jeter on the roster, hoping he will be able to play in at least one of the three games coming up with the White Sox. He will travel with the team to Chicago.
But Jeter, who is always loathe to acknowledge injury, admitted that he even feels this one when he walks.
"It feels like you were hit with a ball or something," he said. "It's like a deep bruise, maybe. That's the best way to put it. I don't know how else to describe it."
Since returning to the field after breaking his ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS last October, Jeter has not been able to sustain his physical condition while playing on a day-to-day basis.
In spring training, he needed to be shut down after playing two games, five innings each, on consecutive days, and was subsequently found to have sustained a new fracture in the same ankle. That injury cost him the first 91 games of this season. After returning on July 11, he went back on the disabled list after straining his right quad. Since both of the new injuries have occurred to his right, or "good" leg, the suspicion is that Jeter might still be favoring his left ankle.
"I don't know," Jeter said. "All I can tell you about my ankle is that I don't feel it. If I am doing it, it's not something I'm conscious of. I don't think it has anything to do with my ankle because my ankle feels good."
Jeter homered in his first at-bat of the first game he played after coming back on July 28 against the Tampa Bay Rays, but went 1-for-11 with a walk in the next three games and has looked awkward and stiff both in the field and on the basepaths. Although Girardi said Jeter might be available to pinch-hit on Sunday, he used Vernon Wells as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.
"I was getting treatment all day long, so I didn't think I would hit in the ninth," Jeter said. "I've been pretty fortunate in my career not to have to deal with too many things. Now it seems like I'm dealing with a lot at one time. I have no choice but to move on. Hopefully it heals quickly and I can get back out there."