Yankees star Derek Jeter runs the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday in New York. (AP Photo)
NEW YORK — Derek Jeter returned to the New York Yankees' lineup — again — with customary flair, making an immediate impact on a team desperate for power.
Jeter homered on the first pitch he saw from Tampa Bay's Matt Moore, connecting Sunday soon after being activated from the disabled list for the second time this month.
"Hopefully I can help in any way, but we need contributions from a lot of people," said Jeter, who made his season debut at shortstop. "It's not like I'm some savior coming in here all of a sudden we're just going to start winning."
The captain's drive ended the Yankees' nine-game homerless drought. It was New York's first long ball by a right-hander since June 25.
Jeter received a loud ovation and came out for a very quick curtain call, waving his cap from the next-to-top step of the Yankees dugout.
To make room for Jeter, the Yankees placed designated hitter Travis Hafner on the disabled list with a right rotator cuff strain. Hafner has slumped to a .205 average. He hit the last of his 12 homers on June 25, a span of 67 at-bats.
Jeter, a 13-time All-Star, had his much-anticipated return July 11 — as the designated hitter — after missing the Yankees' first 91 games because of a twice broken ankle. He was first injured during the opener of the AL championship series in October.
But he sustained a Grade 1 strained of his right quadriceps running out a groundball against Kansas City and went right back on the DL.
Fourth in the AL East, the Yankees have gone 4-8 during his second absence and are 54-50. New York has scored fewer runs than all but three teams in the American League this season.
Manager Joe Girardi hopes he'll be penciling the Yankees' career hits leader in the batting order nearly every day from now on.
"It changes our lineup. There's no doubt about that," he said. "And just his presence is important to this club. It's been important for such a long time."
A favorable schedule should help keep Jeter playing every day at the start. The Yankees have off-days Monday and Thursday next week, then only play six games before their next open day.
Girardi said he's been preaching a cautious approach for Jeter when he runs the bases, at least in the first few games of his comeback, to protect the leg. But the always-all-out Jeter had difficulty embracing the concept while dressing in the Yankees clubhouse before Sunday's game.
"I'll try it," Jeter said. "It's kind of hard because I've never really done it. It's not like I'm going to be jogging to first base. I can't do it. I don't think I can do that. We'll see, I'll try."
A career .313 hitter, Jeter was eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday but the Yankees instead had him participate in a simulated game that was shrouded in secrecy. The location of the workout was not disclosed until after the Yankees' 1-0 loss to the Rays.
"I don't know, it wasn't my idea. They needed to see some things," Jeter said. "Evidently they saw what they needed to see."