Derek Jeter has made more progress than anyone knows as he recovers from a Lost Season of leg and ankle injuries. In fact, he’s on the run.

“I’ve already run,’’ Jeter told five reporters Friday as he stood outside the Yankees’ minor league complex, giving a State of Jeter report. “You guys just assume that everything I do is here. I do things before I come here. I’ve been running.’’
That’s great news for Yankees fans.

The feeling here is Jeter will come back strong this season. He has been hitting the ball with more authority and has been moving well in this pre-camp. He finished his third week of work Friday.

Jeter is in a better position than Alex Rodriguez, the suspended slugger who dropped his lawsuits Friday and will take his suspension medicine.

Before that announcement was made, Jeter was asked if he has advised Rodriguez in any way.

“I’m not an adviser, man,’’ Jeter said.

Jeter, who deflected Rodriguez questions, also danced around whether this will be his last go-round at age 39.

“I’m focused on when we start over there,” he said. “I’m focused on that day. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about. I’m focused on one year at a time. This is 23 years since I’ve been here. I’ve been here since ’92, counting the minor leagues. So it’s always the same.’’

Jeter is the last of the Core Four.

Is it strange without Mariano Rivera around?

“It was strange when Jorge [Posada] left, when Andy [Pettitte] left the first time. Now it’s going to be strange because Mo and Andy are both gone. Life goes on, I guess. You move on and guys do other things. It will be odd because it’s the first time that at least one of them won’t be there.’’

As for being the last of the Core Four, Jeter had a typical Jeter response: “I was always the youngest, so I was supposed to be here last, right?”

When it comes to the batting order, Jeter said he knows where he wants to hit.

“I’ve always said, I like to hit in the first inning,’’ he said.

Does he want to hit second behind Jacoby Ellsbury?

“I don’t know. I don’t complicate things. I hit where they put me,’’ he said. “Ellsbury, I’ve enjoyed playing against him throughout the years. It’ll be fun to play with him.

Like everyone else, Jeter said he is curious to see Masahiro Tanaka.

“I’ve heard a little bit, Andruw [Jones] played with him over in Japan,’’ said Jeter. “I’ve heard that he was good. Yeah, I think everyone is curious. Everything they say about him has been all positive, so anytime you add pitching, it’s going to help us out.’’

Jeter also admitted it has been a long road back from a 17-game season.

“It’s been difficult, because you’re starting over from scratch,’’ he said. “But it’s been enjoyable to get back to this point. I’ve been working hard since November. I feel good right now.’’

Jeter is not going to rush anything, and is not counting swings or ground balls like reporters.

“I don’t count,’’ he said with a smile. “I know you count. I know you’ve got a counter. You just go out there and you take ground balls, you take swings, it depends on the day. But it’s not like I have milestones. It’s just to get ready. We still have six weeks of spring training. The goal is to be ready opening day, not the first day of spring training.’’

Will he play spring training games right away?

“I’m not the manager,’’ Jeter said. “You know what I’m saying? The goal is to play when the season starts. That’s the No. 1 priority. There have been times I haven’t played the first game. We haven’t sat down and talked about it.’’

This is a fresh season with all the changes, much like 2009, the Yankees’ last championship season.