© 2013 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/06/2013 3:53 PM ET

Jeter essentially starting Spring Training over

DETROIT -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter took 41 ground balls hit directly at him on the grass near the left-field fence at the club's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday morning, according to The Associated Press.

If that update sounds familiar, it is because Jeter went through similar activities back on Feb. 11. All signs indicate that the 38-year-old is essentially starting Spring Training over after a March 23 setback with his surgically repaired left ankle.

Jeter also hit flipped baseballs and off a tee on Saturday, and played long toss. Jeter has not played in a game since the March 23 Minor League game in which he grounded out four times and later reported soreness in his ankle.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi viewed the latest update as some measure of progress.

"Well, he's on the field," Girardi said. "He took some ground balls at him, so that's better than where he was last week, or even Thursday."

The Yankees have declined to offer an official projected date for Jeter's first big league game of the year after he was unable to meet his goal of playing Opening Day, but May 1 has been tossed around as a possible target.

Jeter was eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday, but that was not an option for the Yankees. Girardi said that Jeter will "have to go through somewhat of a Spring Training," meaning that he is weeks and not simply days away.

Nunez feels fortunate, could return Sunday

DETROIT -- Eduardo Nunez said that he had just one thought after watching a replay of the pitch that drilled him in the right biceps on Friday.

"I'm lucky," Nunez said. "I was thinking I broke my arm, seriously. I never feel so much pain before."

Nunez was hit by Tigers right-hander Doug Fister in the fifth inning of Detroit's 8-3 win over New York at Comerica Park. Manager Joe Girardi said that he could use Nunez to pinch-run on Saturday, but otherwise did not expect him to play.

Jayson Nix started at shortstop in place of Nunez, who said that he might be able to play on Sunday. Most baseball activities were out of the question for Nunez on Saturday, however.

"I don't think I can throw, but I will try to hit in the cage," Nunez said. "I don't know if I can. We'll see."

Girardi had said that he would use catcher Francisco Cervelli as an emergency infielder if needed, but Girardi said that Cervelli would focus on catching Saturday. Girardi suggested that he could try playing Brennan Boesch at first base if needed.

Phelps to serve in versatile relief role

DETROIT -- With Phil Hughes rejoining the Yankees' rotation on Saturday, David Phelps will be asked to fill a bridge role between the team's starters and its late-inning relievers.

Manager Joe Girardi said that he can use Phelps in several different roles because the team still plans to carry Adam Warren as a long reliever. Right-hander Cody Eppley was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a corresponding move to activate Hughes.

Warren is recovering from throwing 84 pitches in Wednesday's game against the Red Sox, and right-hander Shawn Kelley has been used in three of the club's first four games.

That prompted New York to scrap Hughes' scheduled rehabilitation start at Triple-A, summoning him to Detroit instead. Hughes' last outing came on Monday for Class A Tampa in an extended spring training game, throwing seven scoreless innings.

"We don't really have a long guy if we start Phelpsie today, so we felt if something were to happen with Phelpsie, we'd have a little trouble there," Girardi said. "It was kind of out of necessity. We wanted him to make one more start, but he's going to make it here."

Phelps made a team-leading seven starts in Spring Training, but his only appearance of the season thus far has come in relief, tossing 1 1/3 innings behind CC Sabathia's start on Opening Day against the Red Sox.

Bombers bits

• Outfielder Curtis Granderson is taking fly balls, running and performing some lifting exercises with his legs in Tampa, Fla., according to Girardi.

Granderson told The Associated Press that he will have follow-up X-rays on his fractured right forearm on Tuesday and hopes to be cleared to throw and swing a fungo bat next week.

• Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw 41 pitches in a simulated game on Friday in Tampa after his extended spring training game was cancelled due to rain.

• On this date in 1973, the Yankees' Ron Blomberg became the Major Leagues' first designated hitter, going 1-for-3 with an RBI in a 15-5 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

On this date in 1974, the Yankees played their first home game at Shea Stadium with a two-year remodeling project under way at Yankee Stadium. New York defeated the Indians, 6-1, behind Mel Stottlemyre's seven-hit complete game.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.