NEW YORK — Derek Jeter walked to home plate, toyed with his batting gloves, stepped into the batter’s box as fans chanted his name and legged out an infield hit.
A feeling of normalcy returned to the Yankee Stadium. The captain was back after a nine-month layoff.
But, perhaps, only for a few innings.
Jeter singled on his first pitch of the season, then felt a tight right quadriceps and was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of New York’s 8-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
He scored a run and went 1 for 4 with an RBI groundout as the designated hitter in his return from a broken ankle sustained in last October’s AL championship series opener. After icing the leg, the 39-year-old was headed to a hospital for a scan.
In a season thus far memorable for sidelined stars rather than sustained success, the Yankees anxiously awaited the test results.
“It’s not frustrating, yet. We’ll see. They MRI everything around here,” Jeter said. “I hope it’s not a big deal.”
Known for trying to ignore most injuries, Jeter vowed not to this time. Sort of.
“I can’t trick the tests,” he said, before adding: “I always play.”
He played through September and into October last year with what was called a bone bruise. The left ankle finally gave out in the AL championship series opener against Detroit.
“I don’t think it broke because I was 38. I think it broke because I continued to play on something that maybe I shouldn’t have,” Jeter said.
The possible setback is not what the Yankees were hoping for in a season also hampered by significant injuries to first baseman Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli.
“It’s kind of what we went through this year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “So hopefully it’s nothing, it’s just some leg tightness and he’ll be ready to go.”