NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter was dismissive toward the New York media as reporters tried to learn the latest on the bone bruise in his left ankle before Friday's game. He had a similar response when manager Joe Girardi asked about it in an attempt to determine whether he could pencil the 38-year-old's name into his lineup against the Rays.
"I get the word 'great,'" Girardi said.
Jeter showed signs that his ankle was bothering him in a 6-4 loss to the Orioles, particularly as he legged out an infield single in the fifth that game him sole possession of 10th place on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Willie Mays. Jeter also singled in the eighth and scored on Alex Rodriguez's homer.
Both Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman believe Jeter will play through pain for the remainder of the year, as the bone bruise is expected to heal only with extended rest. So for the series opener against Tampa Bay, rest meant Jeter served as designated hitter for the Yankees, with Eduardo Nunez in his place at shortstop.
"You're constantly thinking of ways to help him through this thing, and one way is to score a lot of runs and pull him out, or get ourselves a big lead and pull away from Baltimore and Tampa Bay and pull him out," Cashman said. "If we want to help Derek Jeter, we have to win as many games as we can so we can rest Derek Jeter. But Derek Jeter will tell you, 'If you want to help me, shut the blank up, write my name in the lineup and let me get my hits and help us win.'"
Jeter was reluctant to discuss his injury but said he told Girardi he could play shortstop.
"I don't talk about it," Jeter said. "You either play or you don't, and I'm playing."
The Yankees' only day off before the end of the season is Monday, and Girardi said there is no indication that Jeter's ankle would be better if he sat all three games of their weekend series with the Rays and then on Monday's day off. But he does believe Jeter felt better Friday than he did Thursday, when he drove in one of New York's two runs in a win against the Red Sox -- a result of looking in Jeter's eyes when they spoke, not any open or honest assessment from the Yankees' captain.
"He's swung the bat and been such a force for us in the lineup," Girardi said. "We're not asking him to cover ground in the field. We're asking him to get on base and try to score some runs. ... There's been DHs that are on two healthy feet that are slower than him, and we run them out there a lot. It's just something we have to manage."
Cashman: 'I believe in these guys'
NEW YORK -- As the Yankees returned to the Bronx with two consecutive wins Friday tied with the Orioles atop the American League East, general manager Brian Cashman remained confident the club he put together could make it the postseason, then make a deep run.
"I believe in these guys," Cashman said prior to a 6-4 loss that, coupled with the O's loss, kept the Yankees tied for first. "I do."
But at this point in the season, with September callups and any late-season acquisitions already made, there is little the general manager can do other than watch, and monitor injuries that plague the lineup.
"At this stage of the game, I have a front-row seat, but I'm more like a fan where all you can do is root for the home team," Cashman said. "The only thing I know is I have more intimate knowledge of what these guys may be going through prior to the game, which adds extra stuff to your plate to think through or worry about. [The fans] might not know as much as I do."
Pettitte's latest workout provides more hope
NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte threw a bullpen session prior to Friday's game against the Rays, fielded ground balls, covered first base and worked on his pickoff move from the Yankee Stadium mound, convincing a crowd of onlookers that included Joe Girardi that he can make his first start since June 27 on Tuesday against Toronto.
Girardi expects the 40-year-old to throw around 70 pitches in his return from a fractured left ankle, which allowed him to keep his arm strength but prevented him from working on his conditioning.
"I think he's been really pretty sharp considering the layoff that he's had," Girardi said. "In the simulated game, I was really pleased with how he threw the baseball. I expect that to carry over to Tuesday."
But Pettitte would not return this quickly if the Yankees did not have expanded rosters and a larger bullpen, according to general manager Brian Cashman. September callups allow Pettitte to return to a pennant race on a short pitch count, with the Yankees fully expecting the left-hander's contributions to help them pull away from the rest of the American League East.
"I'm not really curious as I am thankful that we have a chance to plug him back in," Cashman said. "When he's healthy, I know what he's capable of doing. Now it's about getting touch and feel and the rust knocked off. It looks like he'll have potentially four outings to do that. We have a bullpen ready to come in and a great offense."
Yanks honor Americans killed in embassy attacks
NEW YORK -- The Yankees offered a moment of silence prior to their first pitch Friday against the Rays to honor the four Americans killed in Libya on Tuesday.
The bodies of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods returned to American soil on Friday after they were killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Yankees showed each name on their center-field screen before the moment of silence.
Friday's series opener marked the first game at Yankee Stadium since their deaths, and the Yankees honored the victims by flying every flag in the stadium, including those that represent each team in the standings, at half-staff.
General manager Brian Cashman offered no optimism Friday, when asked about Mark Teixeira and his Grade 1 left calf strain.
"It's getting treatment," Cashman said. "I won't say it's getting better, but it's getting treatment."
Manager Joe Girardi made batting practice optional on Friday, something usually reserved for weekend day games after night games. Girardi said it was a result of a late arrival in New York after Thursday's game in Boston, but he anticipated most hitters would still hit, which they did.
Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.