Sunday, February 17, 2013
Derek Jeter: Offseason 'not fun'
By Andrew Marchand
TAMPA, Fla. -- Recovering from his broken left ankle, Derek Jeter spent the winter cruising around his 30,000-square foot mansion on a scooter.
The captain known for being photographed by the paparazzi in exotic locations with his famous girlfriends in the offseason was confined to his home and had to learn to walk again.
"My offseason was terrible," Jeter said at his standing-room-only news conference on the day position players reported to New York Yankees camp. "Absolutely terrible."
Jeter, 38, said he is now cleared to do every type of physical activity and expects to be ready on Opening Day. He has run on a treadmill and expects to do so on grass in the coming days. Before Jeter could run, he first needed to learn how to walk again.
"I don't want to make it sound more dramatic than it is, but you have to learn to walk again," Jeter said. "In that sense, physically, it was a challenge. Mentally, it was a challenge when you are sitting on the couch and you can't get anywhere. So I had a little scooter to move around. It was tough. It was not fun."
Jeter fractured the ankle during Game 1 of the ALCS. He had been playing with a bone bruise for weeks before crumbling to the ground in extra innings against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
Now, he has little doubt he will be ready for the Yankees' opener on April 1 vs. the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.
"Why wouldn't it be realistic?" Jeter said. "I broke my ankle in October. It has been quite some time. I'm right where I'm supposed to be up until this point. The ankle has healed perfectly. Now, it is just a matter of getting everything else in shape. You have to wait for the bone to heal before you can do other activity."
Jeter said he has his full range of motion in the ankle, which has screws and a plate in it. Jeter said he is unconcerned with re-injuring it.
While there was a famous front page from the New York Post with the headline, "Derek Eater," Jeter said he never let himself go in the winter, but he needs to return to baseball shape.
Before the injury, Jeter continued his rebirth as a top player. After hitting .270 from 2010 to the middle of 2011, Jeter's been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. He led the majors in hits with 216 in 2012.
Jeter's contract calls for a major paycut in 2014. While he will make $17 million 2013, he is due around $9.5 million, which could fluctuate slightly based on incentives.
However, after this season, Jeter could opt out of the contract and rework a new deal with the Yankees or he could test the free-agent market.
"My focus is only to get back April 1," Jeter said. "I can't think about what will happen next year or two years from now."
The Yankees are not considered the favorites in the American League. Mariano Rivera is returning from major knee surgery that kept him out since May. Alex Rodriguez will not be in camp as he deals with the fallout from his connection to Anthony Bosch -- the Miami man linked to distributing performance enhancing drugs -- and is rehabbing his hip in New York. In Rodriguez' place, the Yankees have signed Kevin Youkilis.
"It is going to be odd that he is not here," Jeter said of A-Rod. "It is going to be weird not having him here. He has been a part of this team since 2004, so it's going to be awkward. In terms of Kevin, I've played with Kevin in the WBC and so I've gotten a chance to know him a little bit.
"I've always respected the way he's played. He plays hard. He plays to win. He has a lot of intensity. I don't think he has to come in here and try to replace anyone. He has to come in here and do the things that made him successful in the past."
Even with the age and the ailments, Jeter said the expectations are to win it all.
"Same as always, it is to win," Jeter said. "You, obviously, have small steps along the way. You want to win the division first. The expectations levels are the same each and every year. It is to win."