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

6/22/2013 1:26 P.M. ET

Kids vie for Pitch, Hit & Run crown at the Stadium

NEW YORK -- Playing at Yankee Stadium is a lifelong dream for many New York baseball fans. Some never will get the chance, but on Saturday, 24 children -- some as young as 7 -- took to the diamond for the Pitch, Hit & Run competition.

As eager children waited with their parents in the Yankee Stadium lobby before the event began at 7 a.m. ET, they posed with statues and took photographs to mark the lasting memories of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"Obviously, Yankee Stadium's one of the premier venues, so I think we had a great day," said Bennett Mayfield, a coordinator from Pitch, Hit & Run. "Good scores out there, good kids, it was a great event."

The Yankees hosted their iteration of the Pitch, Hit & Run competition presented by Scotts on Saturday morning. All 30 Major League ballparks host a regional championship that determines winners from four age groups -- ages 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12, and 13 and 14 -- for both boys and girls. The winners from across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were hopeful to become the next Eric Hosmer or Chris Parmelee -- both alumni of the program. They are eligible to head across town to the Mets' Citi Field for the national competition on July 15 before the Home Run Derby as part of All-Star Weekend.

The 24 finalists will be announced June 30 on MLB Network.

But Saturday was as much a day to be commemorated as anything. As family members circled around the field, they snapped photographs of their children competing in the historic stadium.

"Thanks to the Yankees, they're all coming back to the game today," Mayfield said. "Their families receive tickets, and the eight winners will be recognized in the pregame ceremonies."

Jeter takes batting practice, ground balls at Stadium

NEW YORK -- Looking to break up the monotonous process of rehabilitating his left ankle, Derek Jeter returned to Yankee Stadium on Saturday to take batting practice and be with the team.

Jeter, who's been working out at the Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., said he's been doing everything except for running and sprinting outside. But he said he "assumes" that's the next step in the process.

Other than that, though, there aren't any problems that have crept up during his rehab.

"I feel good," Jeter said. "Everything's been going as good as it can go up to this point."

Jeter said he's been able to do exercises without bearing weight on his ankle, so that's allowed him to maintain his leg strength.

Before New York's game against Tampa Bay on Saturday, Jeter took batting practice and hit line drives to all fields. Once he finished that, he took some ground balls.

While the Yankees are encouraged to see his rehab process progressing so well, it's nothing but a long, arduous time away from the team for Jeter.

"It's not fun," Jeter said. "It's a long process. I've been doing this pretty much since November, December. I'm over it now. It's just too long. The process has been too long."

Jeter will return to Tampa on Sunday.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it's good to have Jeter around the clubhouse for both he and the team.

"I think it's important," Girardi said. "Derek's been a leader for a long time here, and with Derek, it's all about winning games. I also think it's important for him to be around the team, because sometimes when you get stuck in Tampa for a while, it seems like you're so far away."

The plan for the Yankees has always been to activate Jeter so he can play shortstop, and not just be a designated hitter. Despite the team's recent offensive struggles, that plan hasn't changed.

"Our plan is to get him back as a shortstop," Girardi said, "and that's what he's working toward."

A-Rod gets five simulated at-bats in Florida

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez took five simulated at-bats on Friday in Tampa, Fla., as he continues to make his way back from hip surgery.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Rodriguez had a base hit and walked twice.

"He's facing a pitcher and it's an at-bat," Girardi said. "He doesn't know what's coming, so it's an at-bat."

Girardi said he isn't sure when Rodriguez would be able to play in rehab games, but thinks he would need to run the bases "a little bit more" before taking that next step.

Still, rehab games might not be too far away.

"I'm not sure when he's scheduled to do that," Girardi said. "But obviously, if he's taking simulated at-bats, he's got to be fairly close."

Girardi excited for Old-Timers' Day festivities

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi still remembers his first Old-Timers' Day. He remembers seeing Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio back on the Yankee Stadium field, and he knows how awe-inspiring the whole day is.

"Seeing all the people who came back to play in the game, you're like, 'Wow,'" the manager said. "This is pretty awesome to see these players walking around roaming the field."

He'll get to see it again on Sunday, when the Yankees hold their 67th Old-Timers' Day prior to their game against the Rays. The ceremonies will begin at 11:15 a.m. ET, and the first pitch of the Yankees' game is scheduled for 2:05.

New York legends Yogi Berra, David Cone, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams, among many others, will take part in the ceremonies. John Flaherty, Brian Dorsett, Todd Greene, Scott Kamieniecki, Andy Phillips and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez are all slated to appear as first-time Old-Timers.

Many Yankees alumni will also Tweet and answer fans' questions during the game.

Seeing the stands full was the most memorable part of the day for Girardi when he was a player, and he hopes he sees the same thing on Sunday.

Said Girardi: "It shows you how much Yankees fans appreciate what players have done over the years here."

Bombers bits

• Catcher Francisco Cervelli has been taking light, dry swings in Tampa, and Girardi said he'll likely work up to hitting off a tee and taking soft toss shortly. He's rehabbing a broken right hand suffered on April 26.

• Girardi announced on Friday that Ivan Nova will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre to start Sunday's game against the Rays, but he said he doesn't yet know whether Nova will stay with the Yankees after the game or be optioned back to the Minors. There has also not been any announcement made about who will be sent down to make room for Nova.

Chris Iseman, Josh Vitale and David Wilson are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.