For the first time in nine months, Derek Jeter is set to take the baseball diamond. The New York Yankees shortstop will play on Thursday afternoon against the Kansas City Royals in his first game of the 2013 MLB season. Jeter has been out since he broke his ankle in the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

The Yankee captain wasn’t supposed to return until Friday against the Minnesota Twins, but general manager Brian Cashman decided to bring him to the majors a day early. Jeter was scheduled to to DH in Scranton for the Yankees Triple-A affiliate and go to the Bronx after the contest. On Wednesday night, Jeter played in his fourth minor league game with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, as part of his rehab assignment.

Jeter’s comeback couldn’t come at a better time for New York. Even if he isn’t able to return to his old form right away, the Yankees should improve from having him in the lineup. Heading into Thursday, the Yankees’ shortstops have the seconds worst batting average and slugging percentages in the MLB at .211 and .552, respectively.

The 39-year-old won’t play defense right away. He’ll hit in his usual No.2 spot in the lineup, while playing DH. Jeter had an error on Wednesday on a throw to first base.

It’s unknown how Jeter will perform as he comes off the injury, but last year he didn’t show much sign of slowing down in his 17th career season. He batted .316 in 159 games and led the majors with 216 hits.

On Thursday afternoon, the Yankees will look to get a split of their four-game series with the Royals. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 1:05 p.m. ET. Viewers can watch a live stream of Jeter’s return online with MLB.TV.