Bronx, NY – Derek Jeter went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in his first game of the season for the New York Yankees, who beat the Kansas City Royals by an 8-4 margin.
Jeter was activated from the 60-day disabled list prior to Thursday's game. The team captain returned to the lineup after playing four minor league rehab games in his recovery from a broken left ankle. He suffered the broken ankle during Game 1 of last year's American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers and sustained another fracture during spring training that set his return further back.
On Thursday, Jeter batted second as the designated hitter. He likely would have remained at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if not for a couple of minor injuries to a pair of Yankees in Wednesday's game against the Royals. Both designated hitter Travis Hafner (left foot) and outfielder Brett Gardner (right leg) suffered minor bruises during the contest and Yankees manager Joe Girardi indicated that Jeter might not have returned until the weekend series against Minnesota if not for the injuries.
Jeter, however, did not make his last at-bat and Girardi announced after the game that the 13-time All-Star injured his right quad. He will have an MRI.
"It's not frustrating yet," Jeter said. "We're going to get an MRI, so we'll find out."
Lyle Overbay had two RBI and a run scored for the Yankees, who split this four-game series with the Royals. Vernon Wells, Austin Romine, Ichiro Suzuki, Zoilo Almonte and Eduardo Nunez added an RBI apiece.
New York starter Andy Pettitte (7-6) allowed four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. He improved to 11-0 in 15 starts against the Royals since Sept. 4, 2000.
Salvador Perez had two RBI for the Royals, who left nine men on base. Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar each drove in a run.
Kansas City starter Ervin Santana (5-6) gave up eight runs on 10 hits over five-plus frames.
The Royals scored three times in the first. With the bases loaded and one out, Perez hit a two-run double down the left-field line. Cain followed with a sacrifice fly.
Jeter stepped to the plate for the first time this season in the bottom half of the frame. He hit a slow roller down the third-base line for an infield single. Jeter moved to third on Robinson Cano's base hit and scored on Wells' sacrifice fly.
"I couldn't wait. Ever since I got hurt in October, I was thinking about the first at-bat," Jeter said. "I wanted to get back on the field. That's what I worked extremely hard for and [why I] did all the rehab."
Kansas City tacked on another run in the second when Escobar's RBI single scored David Lough.
New York responded with two runs in the home half to cut the gap to 4-3. Nunez reached base on an infield single, moved to second on a wild pitch and raced home on Romine's double down the right-field line. Suzuki followed with an RBI single past a diving Eric Hosmer at first.
The Yankees took the lead with a four-run fifth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Overbay hit a two-run single to right. Almonte and Nunez added RBI singles to make it 7-4 New York.
"After I got the first out, I don't know what happened," Santana said. "Ball one, ball two, ball three, ball four. I was trying to take a deep breath and go back and I couldn't find it."
With runners on second and third and one out in the sixth, Jeter knocked in a run when he grounded out.
New York opened a roster spot for Jeter by designating first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment ... The Yankees improved to 4-3 on a 10-game homestand ... Pettitte is an eye-popping 16-3 in 26 career games (24 starts) against Kansas City ... Santana fell to 5-8 lifetime against the Yankees ... The Royals placed pitcher Wade Davis on the paternity leave list and recalled pitcher Donnie Joseph from Triple-A Omaha ... Gardner came on as pinch-hitter for Jeter in the eighth.