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New York Yankees' Derek Jeter returns to the dugout during the fifth inning of the baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium Thursday, July 11, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
MLB: Jeter returns, exits with tight quad, Yankees win
First Published Jul 11 2013 01:09 pm • Last Updated Jul 11 2013 10:53 pm

New York • Derek Jeter was back, and the New York Yankees felt a whole lot better.

At least until he needed to make an early exit.

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The Yankees captain singled on his first pitch of the season, then was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning with a tight right quadriceps in an 8-4 victory Thursday over the Kansas City Royals.

"I hope it’s not a big deal," Jeter said.

Jeter scored a run and went 1 for 4 with an RBI groundout as the designated hitter in his return from a nine-month layoff from a broken ankle. He said his quad tightened up during his third at-bat, and added he didn’t think this injury came from pushing too hard in his debut

"It’s just stiff," he said. "We’ll find out tomorrow."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the 39-year-old Jeter will be sent for a scan.

"Jete thinks he’ll be ready to play" on Friday night at home against Minnesota, Girardi said.

Andy Pettitte (7-6) settled down after another shaky first inning to win consecutive starts for the first time since April. Lyle Overbay hit a go-ahead, two-run single in a four-run fifth against Ervin Santana (5-6) as New York overcame a 3-0 deficit and split the four-game series.

Jeter batted second in his first big league game since he broke his left ankle during the AL championship series opener Oct. 13. He said after the initial injury he would return by opening day, then fractured the ankle again in April during his rehabilitation and missed the first 91 games of the season.


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"I was nervous going into the game," Jeter said.

New York cut short the star shortstop’s rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues after just four games following injuries Wednesday night to Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner. Gardner pinch-hit for Jeter in the eighth.

Jeter turned on a 95 mph fastball in the first and sent a three-hopper up the third-base line that fell from Miguel Tejada’s throwing hand. Jeter didn’t acknowledge the crowd of 40,381, which chanted "De-rek Je-ter! De-rek Je-ter!" as he ran up the line well past first base, then returned to the bag.

Jeter’s ankle got more tests when he raced to third on Robinson Cano’s single up the middle and came home without a throw on Vernon Wells’ sacrifice fly to right.

The Yankees’ all-time hits leader grounded out in the second and again in the fifth, when second baseman Johnny Giavotella made a diving stop to prevent an RBI single. Jeter hit a sharp grounder to shortstop with the infield in during the sixth. Alcides Escobar bobbled the ball as Luis Cruz scored from third, and Jeter was thrown out as he jogged up the first-base line.

Jeter had not been introduced at Yankee Stadium by Bob Sheppard’s recording in 271 days, since he sprawled onto his stomach while trying to field Jhonny Peralta’s 12th-inning grounder up the middle, immobile on the infield dirt and yelled out in pain. He hobbled off the field on his good ankle, one arm draped around manager Joe Girardi and the other around trainer Steve Donahue.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made the decision to bring back Jeter when he was driving home after New York’s 8-1 win Wednesday’s and spoke with Jeter by phone. Jeter went 1 for 9 in his tuneup at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including 0 for 3 with a throwing error during seven innings Wednesday night.

"I think it’s easy to say that you would expect with his age and a double break that I think he’d lose a step or two or half a step, but I think he’s moving extremely well from what I’m told," Cashman said.

Girardi said Jeter is likely to start at shortstop for Friday’s series opener against Minnesota.

"I think Derek would run himself out there the next 70 games if it was up to him," Girardi said. "I mean, that’s just who he is. He expects to play every day. So from that standpoint I think we have to guard against rushing him back too much, and we have to pick days off, and we have to pick DH days. In the perfect world, you have a month of spring training, but this has not been a perfect world around here this year."

Jeter did not speak with reporters before the game.

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