Jeter will address retirement on Wednesday
Yankees captain waiting for position players to report to Spring Training
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who announced Wednesday that the 2014 season will be his last, said Thursday that he'll wait to address his decision with the media until position players report to Spring Training next week.
Asked if he felt good about his decision as he left the Yankees' Minor League complex late Thursday morning, Jeter responded, "I do. I'll address it when we get over there [to George M. Steinbrenner Field] the first day of spring. It's easier that way."
Jeter, who will continue working out at the Minor League complex after Yanks pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Friday, likely will hold a news conference after position players report on Wednesday.
The rest of Jeter's day was business as usual. He arrived in his gray Mercedes around 9:30 a.m. ET and waved to the crowd of about 50 fans waiting on the Himes Avenue sidewalk as he strolled into the facility. Jeter took batting practice in the cage, played catch and met with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, later joking that he'll have to learn more Japanese.
Jeter stopped to sign about a dozen autographs and answer a few questions from a large crowd of reporters before leaving the complex shortly after 11 a.m.
Jeter, who will turn 40 in June, announced his plan to retire via a Facebook post on Wednesday. As the news spread throughout the baseball world, players, coaches and fans offered up their praise for the iconic Yankees captain, and the words of reverence and admiration continued Thursday.
Like most everyone else, Yanks catcher Francisco Cervelli was surprised to hear that Jeter will retire after his 20th season in the Majors.
"That's his decision," Cervelli said. "With the captain, it's an experience that I'm going to tell all my kids and the people that I know, because I think he's the greatest player I've ever seen in my life."
Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said he regards Jeter with the "utmost respect you can have for a baseball player or any athlete on the field."
"All I know is that when you put him in the conversation of maybe one of the greatest Yankees, I don't know if you have to say much more than that," Rothschild said.
Indians manager Terry Francona said he's glad Jeter can walk away on his own terms, as former Yanks closer Mariano Rivera did a year ago. Francona joked that he hoped Jeter goes 0-for-28 against the Tribe this year and gets "a nice plaque or something" on his way out. And yet, Francona added, "I don't see that really happening."
"He is the walking example of what's good in baseball," Francona said.
Angels slugger Albert Pujols took it a step further than that -- much more than a step, actually.
"He's almost the way you want your kids to grow up," Pujols said. "There is nobody perfect on this Earth. Only Jesus was perfect, but he's pretty close to being that perfect guy."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was one of many to compliment Jeter for not only his ability and accomplishments on the field, but also for the way he carried himself off the field, particularly considering the public spotlight of playing in New York.
"Nothing but respect for him. You look at being in that market and then being able to keep his name as clean as he has being a superstar player in that market, that's a lot to ask of anybody," Matheny said. "I think he has been just a great ambassador for the game, obviously a great ambassador for the Yankees. He's just somebody that, as you walk through the clubhouse, even for those who never met him, you have the utmost respect for him."
Red Sox manager John Farrell said Jeter "epitomizes the word professional" and has been "a model of consistency."
Boston outfielder Daniel Nava called Jeter "as clutch as they come" and noted the way Jeter treated everyone equally, whether it was a rookie or a 10-year veteran.
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz couldn't help but look forward to Jeter's farewell tour and final series, which will take place Sept. 26-28 at Fenway Park.
"I'm sure it's going to be really special. There wasn't one person in the game that disliked him in any way," Buchholz said. "He'll get the best of everything at every park he goes through throughout the season. It's what he deserves, too. ... It's going to be crazy. There's not going to be any boos in that stadium. He's going to be taken well in his farewell."
Rays manager Joe Maddon, meanwhile, looked beyond the end of Jeter's playing days and into his sure-fire future in Cooperstown.
"They created the Hall of Fame for players like him. Never a doubt," Maddon said. "Totally earned. He may be the first 100 percenter."