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Healthy Jeter: 'Right time' to retire

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Feb 19 2014 10:55:29 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2014 03:16:58 PM CST
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

TAMPA, Fla. -

Derek Jeter, perpetually in a comfort zone entering his 20th season, was stoic and relaxed in affirming 2014 is his farewell to pinstripes at a press conference Wednesday morning at the New York Yankees spring training facility.

"I tried to do this under the radar," said Jeter, who announced earlier this month on his Facebook page that he was retiring at season's end. "I didn't want this to be a press conference where I come here and read a speech. I didn't want to have everyone, especially my teammates, I didn't want this to be a distraction to them."

Current and former teammates lined the rows of seats before the podium at which Jeter sat, an ode to the player many regard as the greatest Yankee ever.

Jeter, who turns 40 in June, has 3,316 hits, which ranks 10th in baseball history, and a career .312 batting average. His accomplishments include five World Series championships, five Gold Gloves and the 1996 American League Rookie of the Year Award.

"I took a lot of time thinking about this," Jeter said. "I've been very vocal about how difficult last year was, how difficult it was to come to the stadium each and every day. ... This is not a retirement with a press conference. I still have a season to play. I felt as though this was the right time. ... I just felt like this was long enough."

Last season signaled the beginning of the end for Jeter. A broken ankle suffered in the American League playoffs in October 2012 was slow to heal and he played in only 17 games in 2013.

"This has nothing to do with how I feel physically," Jeter said. "When I talked to family and friends, they said 'take your time.' ... I feel great. Look forward to playing a full season."

The Yankees built their Wednesday schedule around Jeter's press conference, holding voluntary workouts earlier in the day to clear admiring teammates to attend. The entire roster and administration staff was present.

"My teammates, these are the guys that made it fun for me," Jeter said. "The banter back and forth, the highs and lows. They've taken this job, taken the monotony out of it. ... Anytime you have teammates say teammates say good things about you, it's a good thing. It's a team sport."

Jeter's last regular-season game would be Sept. 28 against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park and his last appearance in Yankee Stadium, barring the Yankees reaching the playoffs, would be Sept. 25 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Jeter said there are "other things I want to do" and he feels healthy enough that he could continue beyond the 2014 season.

"Not yet," Jeter said. "I've been fortunate. I've played pretty much my entire career with only one major injury. ... I'm just ready to do other things. Not yet -- I see the Steinbrenner Family looking at me."

Jeter said he posted his initial retirement message on Facebook for "selfish reasons" to draw attention to his foundation, one of the areas he plans to focus on next year.

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