TAMPA, Fla. — Derek Jeter said 20 years in the major leagues will be enough. He just wouldn’t really say why.
The New York Yankees captain answered questions for nearly half an hour Wednesday, a week after announcing this will be his final season.
“You can’t do this forever. I’d like to,” he said. “There’s some things I look forward to doing.”
On the day the team’s position players reported for spring training, Jeter spoke in the pavilion behind the third-base stands, where closer Mariano Rivera said last March that 2013 would be his final season.
The Steinbrenner family that owns the team sat in the front row, manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman in the second. Teammates, who said his decision shocked and saddened them, were in the rows after that.
Wearing a navy Yankees pullover and shorts, it was the start of the final season for No. 2, the last of the single digits to wear a Yankees uniform. He spoke from a table with arms crossed most of the time. He spoke directly and dispassionately, much like every interview since he first reached the major leagues in 1995.
“Trying to get me to cry?” he said after one question. “I have feelings. I’m not emotionally stunted. There’s feelings there, but I think I’ve just been pretty good at trying to hide my emotions throughout the years. I try to have the same demeanor each and every day.”
Open yet opaque, as he has been throughout his career.
Jeter, who turns 40 in June, was limited to 17 games last season, hitting 190 with one homer and seven RBIs after breaking an ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener
“I took a lot of time thinking about this,” he said. “I’ve been very vocal on how disappointing last year was, how hard it was for me to come to the stadium each and every day. You start thinking about how long do you really want to do this?
“And let me say one thing is, this is not a retirement little press conference. I still have a season to play. This is just letting you guys know that this is going to be my last year.
“But I felt as though it was the right time. 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. So I just think I’ve done it for long enough, and I look forward to doing some other things in my life.”
He is a 13-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove shortstop who led the Yankees to World Series titles in 1996, ‘98, ‘99, ‘00 and ‘09. Jeter enters his 20th big league season with a .312 average, 256 homers and 1,261 RBIs
“This has nothing to do with how I feel physically,” he said. “Everyone I told when I first started speaking about this with family and friends, they all told me to make sure you take your time, don’t base this decision on what happened last season, wait until your healthy and then make the decision. So this has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel physically. Physically I feel great and I’m looking forward to playing a full season.”