TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter returned to the field Saturday for the first time since Game 1 of the American League Championship Series last October, going 1-for-2 as New York's designated hitter in a 2-1 loss to the Braves.
Batting leadoff, Jeter swung at the first pitch he saw from Braves lefty Mike Minor and lined it into left field for a single. He was then forced out at second base on a fielder's choice despite attempting his first slide since fracturing his left ankle last year.
He grounded out to third base in his only other at-bat, running at less than full speed down the first-base line on his surgically repaired ankle. Jeter previously said he would have to be able to run at full speed before returning to Grapefruit League games, but he backed off that stance, pointing out that hardly anyone fully exerts themselves on the basepaths in their first Spring Training games each year.
"It felt good to be back, but my mind's always been at peace," Jeter said. "It just felt good to be out there. But when [Dr. Robert Anderson] said that my ankle was completely healed, what else is there to worry about as opposed to just getting the rest of your body in shape?
"Now it's normal Spring Training. I've played a game, so now it's just continuing to get more and more comfortable, more at-bats, more pitches, more times running around the bases. But now, I can just do it in games."
Jeter hadn't seen much live pitching before Saturday, aside from Friday's simulated game against Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte, but he liked the first pitch he saw from Minor.
"It was right down the middle," Jeter said. "He must've felt sorry for me."
Jeter isn't on the travel roster New York is sending to Dunedin, Fla., to face the Blue Jays on Sunday. He will most likely play one more game as the Yankees' designated hitter -- potentially as soon as Monday at home against the Cardinals -- before playing shortstop for the first time since last season.
"If that's what he feels he's ready to do, then we'll do it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.