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On 38th birthday, Jeter reflects

On 38th birthday, Jeter reflects

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter stopped singing in the clubhouse well before he turned 38 on Tuesday, manager Joe Girardi said, explaining that the Yankees' captain has lost some of the boisterousness he brought to New York since debuting as a 20-year-old in 1995.

But Jeter is the same player he always was, only with a better understanding of who that player is.

"You probably understand yourself a little more," Jeter said before Tuesday's game against the Indians. "When you're younger, you go out and basically get by on ability. As you get older, you learn your body more, you learn your abilities more and you learn different ways to improve. I think that comes with experience."

Jeter's experience is up there with the best -- five World Series titles, five American League Gold Glove Awards, four AL Silver Sluggers, an AL Rookie of the Year Award and 12 AL All-Star appearances, with another start at shortstop likely on the way in two weeks.

Only Hank Aaron (3,272) and Ty Cobb (3,666) had more hits than Jeter (3,181) before turning 38.

Jeter won his first championship as a 22-year-old rookie in 1996, when longtime teammate Andy Pettitte was 24. Pettitte turned 40 less than two weeks ago.

"It's amazing when you stop and think about the age that we're getting," Pettitte said. "It's amazing to see what he's still able to do out on the field and the way he's playing for us."

Pettitte retired last season because he lacked the motivation to go through the rigors of training and preparing to pitch every five days. Jeter still arrives at the park every day ready to play, taking the approach that he has no choice -- it's his job.

"You probably spend a little bit more time getting ready, but I don't know if you'd say it gets harder," Jeter said. "When you're younger, you come in, you show up, you get dressed, you don't even stretch -- you just go out there and play. Now, it's more of a process, but I think it's something that you learn through time that you have to do. I don't know if you want to say it gets harder. It just gets longer."

Jeter said he feels as good now as he did 10 or 15 years ago, and he has not put any thought into when he might retire. He's still the same player he always was, just a little different in the clubhouse.

"They were giving him a hard time about his hair yesterday," Girardi said. "To me, he's the same guy. He's probably not quite as boisterous in the clubhouse as he used to be and he's probably not quite as silly as he used to be. To me, he's the same guy who comes prepared to play every day and loves to play the game. The biggest difference is he's matured a little bit, but that's about it."