Derek Jeter: “I still have a season to play”

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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.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.