Derek Jeter held a 20-minute press conference this morning outside George M. Steinbrenner Field, saying that he has moved on after the difficult contract negotiations and is ready to get on the field for the Yankees in 2011.
“I told you from day one, the ultimate goal is to be here,” Jeter said. “I’m here and I’m happy about it.”
Jeter said he will not take extra motivation from those negotiations, when he felt that his stance had been misrepresented, but the 37-year-old is looking to improve from a 2010 season that he found unsatisfying.
“I always have been pretty good about separating from year to year, whether it’s a good year or a bad year,” Jeter said. “At this time of year I think everyone has energy, I think everyone’s excited. I can’t say that I’m any more motivated by anything that’s gone on in the offseason.”
Of course, Jeter heard the whispers that his bat isn’t keeping up, or that his defensive range is slipping, or even that he might have to move to center field at some point. Jeter comes in thinking the same thing he has since 1996 – he’s the shortstop of the New York Yankees.
“I really try not to pay attention to it,” Jeter said. “You hear about it, people are always talking about it, but I understand what my job is. My job is to come play shortstop and try to help this team win. That’s never changed over 15 years, it’s not going to change now. I really try to keep those things out of my mind and focus on what I’m supposed to be doing, and that’s trying to improve and help this team win.”
Just 74 hits shy of becoming the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits, Jeter said that he will try to take a different approach than in the past. We all remember how Jeter didn’t seem to love chasing Lou Gehrig’s Yankees franchise hits mark, but Jeter thinks it can be different this time.
“I’ll try to enjoy it, I guess,” Jeter said. “I don’t take anything for granted. I’m not just assuming that’s something that’s going to happen. I’ll just try to enjoy it. I think in the past I’ve pretty much tried to block it out and not pay attention to it.
“Anytime you’re talking about something as special as that, I think it’s something that should be appreciated. For myself, I’ll appreciate the journey and have fun with it. The great thing is, it’s a hit thing. Every time you’re up there, you’re trying to get a hit anyway. It’s not like you’re doing anything different.”