Day 5: Derek Jeter says ‘the time is right’ to go
What happened: Regardless of what you might have heard, read and seen, Derek Jeter wants to make one thing clear — Wednesday’s gathering in the pavilion beyond left field at George M. Steinbrenner Field was not a retirement press conference. We’ll get to that in September or – if he has his way – October.
For now, Jeter has Spring Training to get through and a whole season left to play, but yes, this will be the final Major League season for the Yankees captain.
“I felt as though this was the right time,” Jeter said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time; this will be parts of 20 seasons that I’ve been playing here in New York and parts of 23 if you count the Minor Leagues. I just think I’ve done it long enough and I look forward to doing some other things in my life. But I can’t reiterate enough that we still have a season to play.”
Jeter said that his decision had nothing to do with his ankle or any other part of health; in fact, he told Hal Steinbrenner that this is the best he’s felt — ever. Jeter said that this offseason was the hardest that he’s ever worked, and he expects to be the Yankees’ everyday shortstop.
“It’s all about the time. You can’t do this forever,” Jeter said. “I’d like to, but you can’t do it forever. I feel as though the time is right after this year. There’s other things I want to do.”
“I want to have a family – that’s important to me,” Jeter said. “I have the utmost respect for all these guys that have kids and families. Being away, I have a young nephew, and you miss so many things. I don’t know how you guys do it, really. So I look forward to that. So there are some things I look forward to doing.”
What we learned: Mark Teixeira said this week that he thought Jeter could play until age 44 or 45. Jeter agreed that he probably has more than one year in him, but it’s the time commitment that is keeping him from signing up for that. As he said: “It’s not a sixth-month season, this is 12 months.”
What we learned II: Jeter reached out to Hal Steinbrenner on the evening of Feb. 11 to tell him about his decision, but Steinbrenner let the call go to voice mail. He didn’t hear it until after Jeter texted him the next morning, with the Facebook post locked and loaded to go.
“I didn’t recognize the area code,” Steinbrenner said. “I didn’t check the voicemail until the next day. It said Florida, but it was some crazy area code. My bad.”
What we learned III: Even though the Yankees do not plan to give out any more big league contracts this spring, Steinbrenner has seen the same things you’ve been talking about. It’s kind of odd that the Yankees could spend more than $500 million and have so many questions coming into the season, but Steinbrenner believes the Yankees will be able to handle any issues on the fly.
“There are areas of concerns and we’re going to keep plugging away, but we’ve got to see how big of a concern they are,” Steinbrenner said. “They’re not problems yet because we haven’t even started playing. They’re areas of concern; I get it. Every team has them and every team works through them. We’re going to do the same thing. We got pretty good at it last year, I thought.”
What we learned IV: Here’s a glimpse of what it used to be like behind the scenes in the Yankees clubhouse, during the Joe Torre administration —
“I remember [Jeter] always yelling at Mr. Torre when he wanted to take him out of games,” Joe Girardi said, “and how was he ever going to break Cal [Ripken Jr.]’s record if he kept pulling him out of games?”
What else: Jeter said that he can’t picture himself coming to Spring Training as a guest instructor. We’ll see about that. Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte seem to have enjoyed it in years past, as well as plenty of Jeter’s other former teammates. … Ichiro Suzuki said that after the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, his reaction was: “Oops!” … Ichiro and Masahiro Tanaka were teammates in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but Ichiro said that the pitchers and position players tend to run in different circles, so he didn’t get to know him much.
What they said: “I was really shocked, as I think were a lot of people. I didn’t want to believe it. But I was actually shocked that he was doing Facebook. That’s something that I was really shocked about.” – Ichiro Suzuki, on Derek Jeter’s announcement.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 19, 2014
What’s next: The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Thursday morning. Players must dress by 9:45 a.m. and should be on the field shortly after.