Derek Jeter: 'The time is right'

Updated: February 19, 2014, 4:34 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter says he will retire after the 2014 season because he is simply ready to begin the second half of his life.

"I feel the time is right," said a seemingly unemotional Jeter, dressed in a Yankees hat, pullover and team shorts. "There are other things I want to do."

On Wednesday, the 39-year-old Jeter spoke publicly for the first time since announcing his plans on Facebook a week ago. He said he would like to start a family post-retirement, extend his business career and do more philanthropic work, all without the burden of a 162-game season.

In 2013, Jeter played in only 17 games because of a variety of injuries related to the dislocated ankle he suffered in Game 1 of the 2012 American League Championship Series. He found the year tedious and had a lot of time to think about his future. He decided a few months ago that he wanted to retire; friends and family advised him to wait before making the decision public.

Jeter emphasized that his conditioning had nothing to do with his decision.

"Physically, I feel great, and I look forward to playing a full season," said Jeter, who added he worked harder this winter than any previous one.

Inside the media tent at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees' spring training home, Jeter's teammates and coaches joined owner Hal Steinbrenner, GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi at the team captain's news conference. A year ago, there was a similar scene when Mariano Rivera said 2013 would be his final season.

Jeter tried to play down the fuss, saying he didn't look at it as a retirement news conference because he still has a season to play. At one point, he even instructed Girardi to take the team out for drills if there was still work to do.

He was not very reflective, but he did say what is most important to his legacy.

"The thing that means the most to me is to be remembered as a Yankee," Jeter said.

Jeter enters his final season needing just four hits to move past Paul Molitor's 3,319 for eighth place all time. Jeter, whose career corresponded with the expanded playoff format, has played in the most postseason games and racked up the most playoff hits and runs in history. He has helped the Yankees win five championships.

He is the only Yankee with 3,000 hits, and his 3,316 are sixth-most for a player with one franchise, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He ranks first in Yankees history in hits, stolen bases, at-bats and games played.

The Yankees conclude the regular season Sept. 26-28 with three games at Fenway Park.

On Wednesday, Jeter arrived in the clubhouse two hours before his news conference. In the stall next to his, Brett Gardner held court with reporters. Jeter chimed in, referencing Jacoby Ellsbury's addition in center field by saying, "How do you feel about going to left?"

After a reporter asked, with Ellsbury on board, about the possibility that Gardner could get traded, Jeter said, "You're getting traded now?" Gardner later asked Jeter if his Facebook account was a fake.

During the news conference, Jeter didn't seem any different than any other year.

"Yeah, I'm emotional," he said when asked about his lack of emotion. "It is kind of difficult because we still have a season to play. I have feelings. I'm not emotionally stunted."

Jeter said he isn't trying for a retirement tour like Rivera's.

"I don't know if he asking for that," said Cashman, "but it is certainly coming."

Wanting to keep his plans private, Jeter called only Steinbrenner a day before the Facebook post. The call went to voice mail, and the two did not speak until the next day. At that time, Steinbrenner was the only one in the organization who knew. Jeter said he wanted the Steinbrenner family to hear the news from him.

"It is kind of surreal to think about the Yankees without him in the lineup," Steinbrenner said.

Steinbrenner added he thought that Jeter was calling to discuss the team's chances for the season and not to tell him he would be retiring in 2015.

Although many of his teammates have already talked about sending him into retirement with his sixth ring, Jeter felt the need to revise their statements Wednesday.

"I have to correct them on one thing: It is to send us all out on top," he said.

Asked for his favorite career moment, Jeter said it is every time the Yankees win.

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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