David Lennon's extra innings: Still a mystery what caused Derek Jeter's setback

Newsday—May 4, 2013

Derek Jeter wasn't the only one stunned to discover that his most recent CT scan showed a new crack, albeit small, in the area of his previously fractured left ankle. When apprised of Jeter's case, without examining him firsthand, other doctors believed it to be an extraordinary circumstance.

"Having a new fracture, to me, is unusual," said Dr. Matthew M. Roberts, who specializes in foot and ankle injuries at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. "In a nutshell, I would have expected him to be back already, and so what's happening to him now, I can't explain."

That was the impression the Yankees got, as well.

The Hospital for Special Surgery, or HSS, is world-renowned for its orthopedic care and used by many professional teams. Dr. Roberts is not involved with Jeter's surgery or rehabilitation.

But Jeter had a similar reaction to Dr. Roberts when talking about this setback during an April 25 news conference at Yankee Stadium. In trying to pinpoint when and how he suffered this new fracture, the shortstop could not.

"I don't know what happened," Jeter said that day. "I wish I could explain it. No one can really give me a definite explanation for it. I don't think I pushed it too hard. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."

"I would be surprised if there was a problem with the bone in general because he's a healthy person," Dr. Roberts said. "Derek may be older for a baseball player in the major leagues, but he's still a young person, and there's no reason to think that he has any problem like osteoporosis or any kind of issue with the bone.

"But you can get some situations when you haven't used the bone for a while that it does become relatively weak, just from the disuse. And it is possible to go out too hard, too fast. The rehab for any kind of fracture requires you to use the bone, and bone is dynamic in that it gets stronger as you use it. Some achy soreness is expected, but you shouldn't have sharp pain. It should be getting better each week -- not linger."

Jeter's history of playing through varying degrees of discomfort suggests he probably treated this round of rehab in much the same fashion. It's also what eventually led to the ankle fracture in the first place.

"Once the bone has healed, it should be good," Dr. Roberts said. "A bone should heal 100 percent. The process of being non-weight bearing leads to some atrophy of the muscles and some weakness, and you certainly do need to rehab that and get things strong again. But you would expect a full recovery."

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