Derek Jeter said he was told he had a stress fracture in his left foot before he suffered a broken ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers.

Joe Girardi said he never heard that term associated with Jeter’s foot, which took a pounding by foul balls late last season.

And GM Brian Cashman said he doesn’t know exactly what was going on between the bruise and break, but says the Yankees didn’t knowingly play Jeter with anything more than a bone bruise.

“They told me it was a bone bruise and I am not going to ask them to look at it again, and eventually it turned into a stress fracture and broke in half,’’ Jeter said about his left ankle. “If you play, you play. I don’t think you talk about injuries because then it’s an excuse. I was told I was able to play. Unfortunately it broke, but I would do the same thing over again if I had to.’’

The stress fracture was news to Girardi.

“I was not aware of it,’’ Girardi said of Jeter talking about a stress fracture. “I am not aware of what he is talking about. I knew he had the bone bruise.’’

Girardi said if he knew the bone bruise could have led to a broken ankle, “We wouldn’t have been playing him if that was the case.’’

Cashman didn’t want to guess what happened between the bone bruise and the break.

“The bone bruise got worse and led to the break. What happened in between I couldn’t tell you,’’ the GM said. “He wasn’t run out there with a stress reaction or a stress fracture. It’s possible after the break they told him he had a stress fracture over time.’’

Adding to the confusion is Jeter spoke yesterday morning and was gone from George M. Steinbrenner Field by the time Girardi met with reporters and Cashman was reached by phone.

Despite walking with a limp, Jeter believes being ready by Opening Day is attainable.

“Why wouldn’t it be realistic? I broke my ankle in October. It has been quite some time,’’ Jeter said about making it back for the April 1 opener against the Red Sox.” I’m right where I’m supposed to be up until this point, the ankle has healed perfectly. Now it is just a matter of getting everything else in shape. I will have to push myself, but Opening Day is the goal.’’

The only running Jeter has done is on a treadmill. He hopes to move outdoors today, but he hasn’t checked what the medical staff has in mind for his 38-year-old ankle that will always house the plates and screws inserted during surgery.