Brian Cashman not worried about Derek Jeter
TAMPA, Fla. - Questions swirl around Derek Jeter as he embarks on his 20th and final season with the Yankees.
But Brian Cashman, at least not publicly, isn't asking many of them.
"He's our man," the Yankees general manager said Tuesday.
Cashman said he has every reason to believe Jeter, who officially will announce his retirement during a news conference at 11:30 Wednesday, is healthy and over the injuries that limited him to 17 games last season.
Though Jeter's ability to be an everyday player is a frequent topic inside and outside the organization, Cashman said what makes him "anxious" isn't his shortstop.
"[Mark Teixeira] is going to be at first, DJ's going to be at short and what we're going to get is what we're going to get," Cashman said. "I'm hopeful. I'm more curious or anxious about the other positions."
But the talk about what Jeter can realistically give isn't going away.
Not Wednesday, when he discusses his decision to retire and certainly not anytime soon thereafter.
Brendan Ryan, signed during the winter to be Jeter's primary backup, got a taste of what is to come Tuesday and tap-danced admirably.
It ultimately will be Joe Girardi's call whether to pull the 39-year-old Jeter late in a close game in favor of Ryan, the better defender at this stage of their careers, but it didn't stop Ryan from being asked about it.
"I don't know that Derek's going to be all that fired up to come out of games if that's what we're talking about," Ryan said. "That's a tough one. Every guy's got a lot of pride in this clubhouse. I just don't think that's something he'll be in favor of.
"He doesn't have the [manager's] office so he's not going to have that last call, but we'll just have to wait and see. A lot of it's going to be on how he's feeling I'm sure. I'd expect if it's a six-run lead or something like that going into the eighth or ninth, I won't get the save, but at least I can keep him maybe a little bit fresher for the next day. It's hard to answer now."
Cashman said the replacing-Jeter-late-with-Ryan topic has not been broached.
"It's not been discussed," Cashman said. "Obviously, he's here as the backup. That's it. He'll be utilized in any way our manager feels will help, whether it's spelling a day or coming off the bench. Whatever's necessary, but it's not something we've discussed in any way."
Ryan, of course, is expected to get plenty of playing time, including late in games. He knows fans want Jeter to start every game as many will buy tickets, at home and on the road, hoping to see the shortstop one final time.
"Embrace the boos," Ryan joked of the reaction he expects when his name is announced during starting lineups instead of Jeter.
Girardi said he will not be swayed by fans' expectations, and hopes, in making up the lineup.
"I'm going to manage him the same way that I have the last few years, that's not going to change," Girardi said. "As I said, my job is to put us in the best situation to win every day and that's what I have to do. And if it means that he needs a day off, I can't worry about people came [to see him]. I can't worry about that. I have to do what's best for this team."
As for Wednesday's news conference, Girardi, a former teammate of Jeter's, said he'll have several thoughts.
"I think about it when he was there every day in '96, how youthful he was, how he looked so young, how mature he was as a player and what he blossomed into," Girardi said. "You think about all the things that he's done, that's what rolls through your mind. Then you kind of look at yourself and say, 'Where did all the time go?'"