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Jeter to return to Yanks after thrilling Trenton fans

TRENTON, N.J. -- Derek Jeter is ready to return to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

"Basically, it's up to me,'' the star shortstop said Sunday.
The Yankees "have asked me if I'm ready to play. I'll play.''

Jeter spoke with a bulky heat pack on his left shoulder, then
ended his five-game rehabilitation assignment with the Double-A
Trenton Thunder by going 2-for-2 with a triple and an RBI single.

He has not played for the Yankees since Opening Day, when he
dislocated his left shoulder in a collision with Toronto catcher
Ken Huckaby at third base.

The Yankees are off Monday and open a three-game series against
Anaheim on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Jeter said he would
take Monday off and rejoin the team Tuesday.

"I don't anticipate anything other than having him play,''
Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He still has to get himself in
shape against big league pitching. We'll have to wait and see how
long that will take. He seems very confident and upbeat.''

In five games with Trenton, Jeter was 8-for-18 with three walks,
two runs scored and five RBI. His biggest hit was a three-run
double in the eighth inning Saturday night that lifted the Thunder
to a 6-4 win over New Haven.

Jeter tripled off the wall in left-center in the first inning
Sunday against New Haven right-hander Peter Bauer and scored on a
single by Brian Myrow. On the triple, Jeter slid feetfirst into
third base instead of headfirst -- as he did when he was injured.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the second, Jeter drove in
a run with a groundball to deep shortstop that was ruled an infield
single.

Bauer hit him in the back with an 0-2 pitch in the fourth,
causing Jeter to smile and shake his head as he trotted to first
base.

He didn't get to swing in his final two at-bats, as he was
walked on four pitches both times. He was lifted for a pinch-runner
in the seventh.

Jeter said he has improved his timing at the plate the last five
days.

"I'm staying back more,'' he said. "I was starting to jump a
little before, but that was just being overanxious.''

Jeter's presence in Trenton drew record crowds to Mercer County
Waterfront Park. The crowd of 8,729 fans Saturday night broke the
team record of 8,602 set in an exhibition game against the Boston
Red Sox in 1988.

Jeter's first four games with the Thunder all rank among the
team's top 10 for attendance, and the team won five straight while
he was in the lineup.

"He's anxious to come back,'' Torre said. "Just his presence
on and off the field will help, his leadership ability and his
stability at shortstop. I don't anticipate a whole lot on his mind
except playing.''