For now, though, it is a sight the banged-up Yankees had been waiting for: their captain and closer returning to the field following major injuries.
Jeter and Rivera made their 2013 spring training debuts Saturday in the Yankees' 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves, which dropped New York's AL-worst exhibition record to 3-11.
"It's really positive for us," Girardi said.
The 38-year-old Jeter was a designated hitter and singled sharply to left field on his first pitch since breaking his left ankle on Oct. 13 in the AL championship series opener. Jeter, who missed New York's first 13 spring training games, grounded out to third base in his only other at-bat.
"Everything was fine," Jeter said. "It's good to get back into a game. Now, it's normal spring training. Get more and more comfortable."
Jeter, immobile for part of the offseason following surgery on Oct. 20, is scheduled to DH again Monday. He could return to shortstop on Wednesday.
"We'll see how he feels and go from there," Girardi said.
The 43-year-old Rivera was back on the mound, just hours after announcing this will be his final season. In his first game since April 30, he threw a 1-2-3 fifth inning that required 15 pitches. He looked like his overpowering self of old, retiring Dan Uggla on a popup to second and then throwing called third strikes past Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.
"Pretty much what we're used to seeing from Mo," Girardi said. "On track to be ready for opening day."
Rivera made just nine appearances last season before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while shagging fly balls on May 3. Rivera had surgery on June 12.
He called the day "overwhelming."
"It was wonderful," Rivera said.
New York had had a difficult spring training. Already knowing third baseman Alex Rodriguez will miss the first half of the season following hip surgery, the Yankees will be without centerfielder Curtis Granderson (broken right forearm) and first baseman Mark Teixeira (strained right wrist tendon) until May.
As for the Braves, starter Mike Minor allowed three hits and two walks in four shutout innings.
"We threw a lot of sliders and curveballs, and stayed away from changeups, threw maybe five," Minor said. "So, really just working on that and just trying to workout of jams. Mix in more game-like situations."
Tyler Pastornicky, hitting .419 this year, tripled in the seventh and scored on Uggla's single.
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino threw the ceremonial first pitch to Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage. ... Yankees LHP Boone Logan (tender elbow) is to throw off a mound Sunday. ... The Yankees had non-roster utility man Ronnier Mustelier do extra pregame work at third base.