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Jeter undergoes surgery as questions linger over Yankee future

By David Ariosto, CNN
October 20, 2012 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Derek Jeter in the top of the 12th inning against the Detroit Tigers
Derek Jeter in the top of the 12th inning against the Detroit Tigers
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Bombers' captain is expected to recover within 4-5 months, according to a team spokesman
  • He finished off the year with 216 hits, the most in baseball
  • News of the surgery also coincided with the birthday of another Yankee icon: Mickey Mantle

New York (CNN) -- Longtime New York Yankees icon Derek Jeter underwent surgery Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina, to mend the left ankle he fractured fielding a ground ball in the 12th inning of what was the beginning of his team's post-season collapse.

The Bombers' captain is expected to recover within four to five months, according to a team spokesman. But the injury has only added to looming questions about how many more seasons the aging all-star has left in pinstripes.

Finishing off the year with 216 hits, the most in baseball, the 38-year-old shortstop -- nicknamed "Mr. November" -- has played 18 seasons in Gotham and has often said he would like to finish his career as a Yankee.

A virtual shoo-in for Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame, Jeter last year became only the 28th player in baseball history -- and the first Yankee -- to reach the 3,000-hit mark.

News of Saturday's surgery also coincided with the birthday of another Bombers legend: Mickey Mantle, who played 18 seasons with the team between 1951 and 1968.

But when Jeter will join the list of past Yankee greats remains a mystery that most New Yorkers aren't looking to unravel just yet.

"We've had to move on from a lot of things this year," said Manager Joe Girardi in a postgame press conference following the team's 6-4 loss to Detroit last weekend. "We've lost the greatest closer of all time where people left us for dead. ... It is something you deal with, an aging roster."

In March, pitcher Mariano Rivera -- the 42-year-old Panama native who has long endeared himself to New Yorkers with his signature cut fastball -- was faced with the daunting prospect of a career-ending injury with a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

Rivera, baseball's all-time leading career saves leader (608), hit the dirt in agony while shagging fly balls during a practice session in Kansas City, leaving the Yankees to fill his shoes with a younger though surprisingly proficient pitching staff.

"If you want to move on, you've got to find a way," Girardi said.

But the Tigers on Thursday swept the Yanks, whose hitters largely struggled throughout the post-season with a measly .188 playoff batting average, raising questions about the team's penchant for aging stars and amplifying calls to develop the next generation of Yankee greats.

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