Derek Jeter can't escape all the talk about the Yankees searching the free-agent listings for a potential replacement if his ankle doesn't respond any better than it did last season. But the talk is nothing more than a bug on his windshield.
Appearing Thursday night at Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation charity dinner, Jeter left no doubt he expects to be the full-time shortstop in 2014 though he turns 40 in June. "I don't make out lineup cards," Jeter said. "My job is to get ready in the offseason and be ready to play.
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"And my job is to play short. It's been my job since I've come up, and it will continue to be my job. I understand the concerns because of everything that went down last year, but I'll be ready to go."
That's the confidence he evinced last year, before all the ankle-related setbacks that limited him to 17 games. But the coming season is different because Jeter's ankle is fully healed. He said he began training at the beginning of November to strengthen his legs.
How does he feel? "I've heard that [question] a lot in the last year," Jeter said with a smile. "I feel good."
Asked if that means he'll be at full strength, Jeter said, "Yes, 100 percent. I don't have any reason to think otherwise."
Jeter's optimism extends to his expectations about how well he might perform. He far surpassed expectations in his last full season in 2012 when he hit .316 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs, and that's the standard he expects to maintain.
"Why not?'' Jeter said. "There's no reason why not. I have a lot of confidence every year. I've done my tests on my ankle, and it's good to go.''
Some have suggested the Yankees might want to limit the number of games Jeter plays to preserve him late in his career. It's not a comfortable thought for the captain.
"If, if, if,'' Jeter said. "I can't comment on 'if.' You guys know me. I like to play every single day. I get the fact that some days are DH days and some days you have off. I understand that. That happened [in 2012]. I DH'd quite a bit. But I don't make the lineups. My job is to be ready to play, and I'll be ready."
The uncertainty surrounding the Yankees' lineup also involves third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is fighting the 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball for his alleged involvement with performance-enhancing substances.
Jeter said he's followed the news about Rodriguez, "somewhat. I saw him recently. But I don't know what's true, what's not true, what's speculation.''
Earlier Thursday, Jeter announced plans for his own publishing business. Jeter Publishing will operate in partnership with Simon & Schuster Publishing. "I run the show, CEO," Jeter said of his role. "I call the shots. It has my name on it, and I'm going to try and make everyone proud.''