Derek Jeter content with decision
Asked Thursday if he felt good about his decision, which he announced in a lengthy post on his Facebook page Wednesday, Jeter smiled from the driver's seat of his silver-gray Mercedes and said, "I do."
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"I'll address it when we get over there on the first day of spring training," he said, referring to the Yankees' training complex across from the team's minor league facility, where he has been working out since mid-January. "It's just easier that way."
Jeter's announcement took the Yankees by surprise -- a team source confirmed the club had no advance notice he was planning to retire after the season before he called Hal Steinbrenner on Wednesday -- and sets up what is likely to be a season-long victory lap similar to the one enjoyed by Mariano Rivera last season.
On the first day of what is now officially his final spring training, Jeter was given a hero's welcome when he drove into the parking lot of the complex shortly before 9 a.m. from the larger-than-normal contingent of autographs hounds who hold a daily vigil outside the compound.
And when he left about two hours later -- an interval in which his car was driven away by an assistant and returned freshly washed and waxed -- the car was mobbed by fans, for whom Jeter rolled down the window and signed a dozen or so autographs.
When a security guard tried to shoo away the reporters who worked their way inside the throng, shouting that Jeter had "a dentist appointment," Jeter jokingly joined in, shouting, "That's right, clear a path! Clear a path!"
But he lingered a few moments to chat, although he declined to answer any questions about his impending retirement until he holds a formal news conference next week, perhaps on Wednesday, the day position players report.
Jeter took some swings in the batting cage but did not appear to engage in any on-field drills, although it was difficult to be sure because the media is not permitted into the minor league complex before spring training officially begins. He also said he had met his newest teammate, Masahiro Tanaka, and the two talked briefly.
"He seems like a nice guy," Jeter said.
Jeter, who will turn 40 in June 26, will be entering his 20th season, all spent with the Yankees. He has 3,316 career hits, 10th on baseball's all-time list, and trails Paul Molitor, who is ninth, by just three hits. Although injuries limited Jeter to 17 games last season, the Yankees signed him to a one-year contract extension worth $12 million for 2014, replacing a player option that would have paid him $9.5 million.
Jeter's impending retirement spawned reaction among Boston Red Sox players at their spring facility in Fort Myers, where informal workouts were held Thursday.
"Surprised," pitcher Clay Buchholz said in reaction to Jeter's decision, "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."
For anyone beginning their career, 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."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was used in this report.