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Jeter hesitant to talk about his Yankees legacy

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Feb 26 2014 04:31:28 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 27 2014 09:33:23 AM CST
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

The entire 2014 season will serve as a coronation of sorts for Derek Jeter, as the retiring New York Yankees shortstop will be feted with gifts and accolades in every road stop and showered with love and standing ovations on a daily basis in the Bronx.

But like legendary closer Mariano Rivera during his farewell tour last season after missing most of the previous year with a knee injury, Jeter wants to go out as a healthy and productive player after coming off a 2013 campaign in which he was limited to just 17 games due to multiple leg injuries, primarily with his left ankle.

"It's been a while since I played a game, so I think everyone looks forward to the first game in spring training," Jeter said. "You want to get games under your belt. I'm looking forward to it, but don't rush it. I told you, one day at a time."

Manager Joe Girardi has said he expects the 13-time All-Star to receive about 60 at-bats this spring, likely including the Yankees' two-game exhibition series in honor of Rivera in Panama in mid-March.

"What do you think?" Jeter quipped to reporters when asked if he would be making that trip. "We're going to Kalamazoo (Michigan) next year (to play) my old high school team."

Upon arriving in Tampa, Fla., at his final spring training as an active player on Feb. 19, Jeter paused when asked he believes his Yankees legacy will be after he is retired following this season.

"I'm not gone yet, so it's kind of hard to answer that question," Jeter said. "You try to play hard, you try to have respect for your team, your teammates, your opponents, fans, reporters -- everyone that you come in contact with in your job. You want to be remembered as someone that played hard.

"But for me, I've always said it time and time again, the most sacred thing, the thing that means the most to me is to be remembered as a Yankee. That's what I've always wanted to be is to be a Yankee. And I have to thank the Steinbrenner family that's here today, and our late owner, The Boss, because they gave me the opportunity to pretty much live my dream my entire life, and the great thing about being a Yankee is you're always a Yankee, so in that sense it never ends. So being a Yankee is good enough for me."

NOTES, QUOTES

--LF Brett Gardner possibly was going to be traded over the winter after the Yankees signed OF Jacoby Ellsbury to man center field for the next seven seasons. But the Yankees also have made a long-term financial commitment to the speedy Gardner, who signed a four-year contract extension worth $52 million on Sept. 23. "I don't want to be anywhere else," Gardner said. "When they signed Jacoby, definitely when your name gets thrown out in the trade rumors and all that, it's kind of annoying, really. I didn't want to get traded. I don't want to go anywhere else. I let them know that and we were able to get this done."

--OF Ichiro Suzuki appears to be facing a reserve role for the first time in his Hall of Fame career after the Yankees signed OF Carlos Beltran and OF Jacoby Ellsbury as free agents, with OF Alfonso Soriano expected to see plenty of time as the designated hitter. "We signed a number of outfielders but things have a way of working out in spring training,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "Exactly how (Ichiro) fits in, I can't tell you. My job is to keep everyone fresh, health and contributing.''

--1B Mark Teixeira knows he and LHP CC Sabathia will need to assume much of the leadership void when SS Derek Jeter joins his other longtime Yankees teammates in retirement after this season. "If I had a question or I wanted to see how things were done, I looked at Andy (Pettitte), Mo (Rivera), Derek and Jorge (Posada)," Teixeira told the New York Daily News. "Those guys had been here the longest and they had won the most ... CC and I won't be here for another 10 years, but there might be a young guy in here that will be. We can help bridge the gap to the next great young Yankees player. Hopefully he comes here in the next year or two."

--RHP Andrew Bailey isn't likely to pitch for the Yankees until the summer of 2014 at the earliest following shoulder surgery, but the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year signed a minor-league deal with an option for 2015 with New York on Feb. 23 with the idea that the former All-Star closer can help the Bombers' bullpen at some point this season. "Still a long road, but I'm in a great spot, with a great opportunity, with a great organization that knows what's ahead and is willing to walk that road with me," Bailey said. "It's just nice to be affiliated again with a baseball environment. The offseason is frustrating; you have surgery, don't really know where you're going to end up, if you're ever going to play again, all this stuff. To have this opportunity afforded to me is something I'm not going to take lightly, and work to get back."

--3B Alex Rodriguez, who has been suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating MLB's policies on performance-enhancing drugs, will remain in good standing with the players' association after dropping his lawsuit against the union, new MLBPA director Tony Clark said. "The page has been turned," Clark told reporters in Tampa on Feb. 24. "Whether you're a player who played from the very first time you stepped onto the field or to any number of players who are going to come next, our membership is our membership. Alex is a member of the players' association. He will serve the penalty that he's been given by the arbitrator, he will come back in spring training (2015) ready to go, wherever that happens to be. He's under contract to the Yankees, I would expect him to be in camp with the Yankees."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees. But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine's plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series, but I'm confident Cash (GM Brian Cashman) and Joe (Girardi) and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year." -- Yankees president Randy Levine to the New York Daily News, after Red Sox president Larry Lucchino had fired a salvo at the Yankees for " relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents."