Derek Jeter met the press today. As he said in his Facebook post last week, 2014 will be his last season. But this wasn’t a ceremony or a retirement press conference as such. The team and Jeter referred to it as Jeter’s “media availability” which he does every spring, and Jeter did everything he could to make it seem like no big deal. Just the usual February meet-and-greet.
And while most of the conversation was about his retirement, it wasn’t like most retirement announcements we normally see. Jeter had no prepared statement. He said he said everything in the Facebook message last week. The reason? He didn’t want to be a distraction and didn’t want his teammates to have to show up for a formal announcement ceremony. He just asked for it to be a normal. “I still have a season to play,” Jeter said.
Jeter’s second question was about how he felt. He said “I feel good. This has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel physically. I feel great.” He said, over and over, that “the time is right” and that he just wanted to do different things with his life. He mentioned wanting to have a family some day. When pressed for reasons for his retirement he half-jokingly, but somewhat seriously, asked the reporters if they didn’t really read his Facebook announcement. Because that was it. Everything he had to say about it was in there.
Still, the questions came. And to some degree Jeter did open up. He said that a lot of his career had become a job in the past year. Not the playing — he said he still likes coming to the ballpark and playing — but meeting with the media. Answering the increasing questions about how long he can go on. He also referred to the rehab from injuries like he endured last year. And though he didn’t say so, it’s not hard to read in the notion that Jeter would expect to have more rehab as he gets older and that he wouldn’t much care for that.
A couple of reporters asked Jeter if he was emotional about it. He sparred with them — “what, are you trying to get me to cry?” he joked. And there were no tears. Jeter referenced the fact that he has always hidden his emotions to some extent, but yes, he has them. He’s not going to be emotional about it now, however, as he still has a season in front of him. “It’s not the end yet,” Jeter said.
But there were a few words that even the stoic Jeter must admit were more reflective of the end of his career. He was asked about being drafted in 1992 and how time has flown. He said if he had a message for younger players it would be to “enjoy it as much as you can,” and implied that he didn’t always do that himself, though such an approach “has always worked for me.”
2014 will be Jeter’s 20th season as a major leaguer. As he enters it, he has a career line of .312/.381/.446 with 3,316 hit, 256 homers and 1,261 runs batted in. He has five gold gloves and five World Series rings.