State of the Jeter Address

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
11:05
AM ET


Wearing a gray Muhammad Ali shirt that said, "The Greatest," Derek Jeter did not make any news, but offered some nuggets during his news conference on his first day of spring training.

The most interesting item: Jeter, who turns 38 in June, said he would walk away from his contract if his play every deteriorated to a point where he wasn't playing up to his desired level.

Here are the top seven takeaways from the presser:

1.) Mariano Rivera said he only wants to leave on top. Does Jeter feel the same way?

"If I didn't think I was capable of playing the game at a high level, then I would go home. If I wasn't enjoying myself, enjoying the competition, then it would be time to go home. Right now, I think I'm capable and I'm going to enjoy myself. I can't comment on what would force me to retire or go home or stop playing. I have a lot of confidence and I have always had a lot of confidence. If that starts to waver, then I wouldn't do it."

Jeter -- who has two more years on his contract after this season -- did say he would walk away from a contract if he stopped playing well.

"Yeah, I've always said that," Jeter said. "I'm not just playing just to play. I still enjoy it. That [the contract] has nothing to do with it."

2) Jeter was shocked about a couple of things.

• How last season ended when the Yankees lost in Detroit.

• When he heard the Yankees had acquired Michael Pineda.

"I was shocked when we got Pineda," Jeter said. "We faced him, I believe, only one time last year. You are talking about someone who is what, 22, 23 years old? With an arm like that, you don't usually acquire guys like that too often. I was pretty excited about it. I think the organization as a whole was excited about it because that doesn't happen too often. You feel bad that [Jesus] Montero has to leave, but you are excited to have a guy like that on your team for a long time."

3.) With Jorge Posada retired, joining Andy Pettitte and, maybe soon, Rivera, what is it like for Jeter?

"It is awkward, just because you are so used to seeing someone," Jeter said. "With Andy, he was the dumb one of the group who left and went to Houston for a few years. We sort of got used to him not being here. Jorge, it hasn't hit me yet. Pitchers and catchers are on a different schedule anyway, so you really don't see each other too often. That will be a tough one because everyone knows we were together all the time."

4.) On the first half of last year: "I don't think 3,000 hits had any effect on how I performed."

5.) Could his whole 2012 be like his second half? "Why not?"

6.) Jeter thought getting hurt during his pursuit of 3,000 was a "blessing in disguise," because he was able to revert back to his original style of hitting after experimenting with Kevin Long in the spring. He said his timing was off the whole first half and then he went back to the fundamentals.

7.) He expects to get days off, like he did last year, to keep himself fresh. He still doesn't like that idea, but feels as if Joe Girardi will use him the same way.

"It is a long season, but you do have to pace yourself," a resigned Jeter finally said.

What type of year do you think Jeter will have?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
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OTHER LEADERS
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RBIJ. Ellsbury 64
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .787
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAH. Kuroda 3.88
SOM. Tanaka 135