- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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CHICAGO -- Derek Jeter laughed off insinuations by Skip Bayless of ESPN's "First Take" that his excellent 2012 season has been the result of performance-enhancing drug use.
Speaking on "First Take" on Wednesday morning, Bayless said, "I am shocked by what I'm seeing from Derek Jeter right now. They all said he was washed up. All of a sudden, this man has turned 38 years of age in June and already he has more hits than he had last year. ... I'm seeing a whole new guy this year from last year ... Are you kidding me? You would have to have your head in the sand or your head somewhere else not to at least wonder, 'How is he doing this?' "
When Bayless' remarks were presented to Jeter in the clubhouse before Wednesday night's game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, the Yankees' captain smiled and spread his arms in bemusement.
"What do you want me to say?" he said. "Maybe Skip should be tested. I don't know him, but ... "
Jeter entered Wednesday night third in the American League in batting average (.324) and leads the majors with 168 hits. Through 123 games, the shortstop already has twice as many home runs (12) as he did last year.
Bayless engaged in a heated debate in which he quoted BALCO founder Victor Conte as saying synthetic testosterone use is "rampant" in the majors today. He then asked, "If you are Derek Jeter, would you think about using HGH right now?" Bayless backed off accusing Jeter of any wrongdoing.
"I am not saying he uses a thing," Bayless said. "I have no idea. But within the confines of his sport, it is fair for all of us, in fact you are remiss, if you don't at least think about this."
Jeter said he hadn't viewed "First Take," nor had he heard about Bayless' statements.
"That's the unfortunate thing these days," he said. "Anytime you bring this to light with guys that are doing things now, you have everybody questioning everything. You can say whatever you want to say these days. No repercussions."
Asked if he was insulted -- or flattered -- by the suggestion he might be using HGH, Jeter raised his arms to display his lanky 6-foot-3, 195-pound physique.
"You tell me," he said.