Derek Jeter to retire after the 2014 season

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Simultaneously surprising and not surprising: Derek Jeter has announced that 2014 will be his last season.

Surprising because it’s going to be hard to imagine baseball without Derek Jeter’s presence. His injuries last season aside, the New York Yankees shortstop has been baseball’s constant for nearly 20 years.  Not surprising because he turns 40 in June and that’s a couple of years beyond even the greatest, longest-lived and most durable shortstops in the game.  He sounds like he’ll be ready for the upcoming season, but there cannot be too much more gas left in the tank.

As it stands entering his final year, Jeter has five World Series rings, five gold gloves and 3,316 hits and a career line of .312/.381/.446. He punched his first-ballot ticket to the Hall of Fame years ago. Now he’s playing for the right to go out healthy, on his own terms and, if things break right for the Yankees, a winner.

Prepare for six months of “Let’s win one more for the Captain.” And a lot of retirement gifts.

Here is Jeter’s announcement, as posted on his Facebook page:

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Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉