Red Sox join in the Jeter lovefest

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
2:33
PM ET
Derek JeterAP Photo/Charles KrupaDerek Jeter's final game could come Sept. 28 at Fenway Park, the regular-season finale between the Yankees and Red Sox.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You didn’t expect to hear that the Red Sox dissed Derek Jeter, did you?

Not that Jeter was above being abused in Boston. He told the story once of how two young women sitting near the on-deck circle in Fenway Park kept calling his name until he looked up, then unloaded a torrent of expletives that left him shaking his head. Probably wasn’t the only time that happened, either.

But at the Fenway South training facility here, where early arrivals conducted informal workouts again Thursday, there were only words of praise Thursday for the Yankees’ captain, who announced on his Facebook page that he plans to retire after the season.

“Surprised," said pitcher Clay Buchholz, “but the guy has done about as much as you can do in this game. Just a standout player, obviously a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and always a really cool guy to me."

Buchholz said he grew up “idolizing” Jeter; the Sox pitcher was 10 when Jeter made his big-league debut in 1995. In the last couple of years, Buchholz said Jeter always greeted him around the batting cage, offering a compliment if he’d pitched well the night before.

“He’s as down to earth as it gets. For someone to be captain of that team and that franchise for as long as he was there, and being able to keep everything on an even keel and do everything as a professional, it’s something that’s pretty special.

“He was always really personable to me. That’s something I’ll never forget.’’

Sox outfielder Daniel Nava said that in his rookie season of 2010, Jeter congratulated him for making it to the big leagues, and that other Sox rookies on the team at the time told him they were accorded the same treatment.

“I think we all know what Derek Jeter has represented in the game of baseball for a really long time," Nava said, “and his consistency speaks for itself."

For anyone beginning his career, Sox first baseman Mike Napoli said, they would do well to adopt Jeter as a model of how to conduct themselves, on and off the field.

“Just the way he went about his business," Napoli said. “He played for a big-market team, won five championships, came to the park every day, and everything he did seemed to be the right way. The way he handled himself, the way he worked, a leader -- sad to see him go.’’

It’s “crazy," Napoli said, to think that all the players synonymous with the great Yankee teams for the better part of two decades will all be gone soon -- Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retiring last year, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams before them, and now Jeter.

“The run they had, when you looked at the Yankees, you looked at those guys,’’ Napoli said. “It’s pretty crazy that next year all those guys will be gone.’’

Buchholz was well-aware that Jeter’s last regular-season game is scheduled to be played in Fenway Park, an appearance that will likely be celebrated the way Rivera’s was when he made his farewell tour last year.

“I figure it’s going to be pretty special," Buchholz said. “I don’t think there was anyone in the game who disliked him. He’ll get the best of everything in every park, which is what he deserves, for the numbers he put up.

“He said he knows what he’s doing, this is the right decision for him. I wish the best of luck to him."

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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