Derek Jeter could start Sunday

Updated: July 28, 2013, 1:24 AM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter is ready to return to the New York Yankees -- again.

Travis Hafner, on the other hand, is headed to the disabled list.

Jeter played a simulated game on Saturday, and if he feels good when he arrives at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, manager Joe Girardi plans to start him at shortstop.

The Yankee captain missed the first 91 games of the season with a fractured left ankle, before making his debut on July 11 against the Kansas City Royals. Serving as the Yankees designated hitter, Jeter went 1-for-4, but suffered a quadriceps strain running the bases and landed back on the DL.

Jeter was eligible to be activated Saturday, but the Yankees were extra cautious, having him get eight at-bats at the team's minor league facility in Staten Island, facing one of the Single-A Staten Island Yankees pitchers.

"[He] ran first to third, singles, second to home, had him stand and take ground balls, and kind of stand there -- simulate as much of the game [as possible]," Girardi said. "Because the one thing that you can talk about is, you can be in tremendous shape, but playing shape is a little bit different. Cause you gotta get used to standing around, starting and stopping. So we had him do all that, and as of right now, he came out very well. So we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Girardi was speaking after the Yankees' 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, in which his team had just two hits in nine innings off Rays rookie Chris Archer. The manager was asked what Jeter's return will mean to his team.

"It's obviously someone we've been waiting for a long time," Girardi said. "We had him for one day, we won that game. Hopefully, his ratio continues."

As for Hafner, he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right rotator cuff strain. Hafner suffered the injury in the Yankees' 10-6 loss to the Rays on Friday.

In 81 games this season, as the Yankees' primary DH against right-handed pitching, Hafner is hitting .205 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs.

The Rays aim to sweep the Yankees on Sunday, with Matt Moore (14-3, 3.17 ERA) going against Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.33). Tampa Bay has won 21 of 24, and is in first place in the American League East, a game ahead of the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees are 3-6 since the All-Star break, in fourth place in the AL East, and are now eight games behind the Rays.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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