Derek Jeter says 'the time was right'

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter met the media at spring training on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, for the first time since announcing last week that 2014 would be his final season. (Credit: YES Network)

TAMPA, Fla. - The decision was no more complicated than this for Derek Jeter:

"The time was right," the Yankees shortstop said more than a few times during Wednesday morning's news conference discussing his choice to retire at year's end.

"I took a lot of time thinking about this," the 39-year-old Jeter said. "I've been very vocal on how disappointing last year was, how hard it was for me to play, how hard it was for me to come to the Stadium each and every day. You start thinking about how long you really want to do this."



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Coming off a broken left ankle sustained in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS, Jeter had four stints on the disabled list in 2013 that limited him to 17 games.

"I've been doing this for a long time," Jeter said. "This will be parts of 20 seasons that I've been playing here in New York, parts of 23 if you count the minor leagues. So I just think I've done it long enough and I look forward to doing some other things in my life."

Among those things, he said: "I want to have a family."

Though his 2013 was one of frustration, Jeter said he feels as healthy as ever.

"This has nothing to do with how I feel physically," Jeter said. "I feel great. Everyone comes to spring training and says I'm in the greatest shape of my life. I don't know how you measure that. I know I worked harder this offseason than I've worked before, so I feel good."

And ready to go out having the kind of season that's been typical of his career. Jeter has a .312 career batting average and is ninth on MLB's career hits list with 3,316. He is a five-time World Series champion and the only player to win All-Star Game and World Series MVP in the same season.

"I expect, each and every year, to be successful, that's the bottom line," said Jeter, who turns 40 in June. "I expect to come out here, I expect to do my job, I expect to help our team win. If my expectation level [changed], then I would have gone home a long time ago."

So why not see what happens this year, perhaps play 140-150 games, hit .310 and reassess after the year?

"The time is now," Jeter said. "I've always had fun playing. Last year was not fun, which forced me to think about how long I want to do this. But it's fun. I'm going to have fun the entire season. It's not wait and see if I have a good year. I plan on having a good year. If I didn't plan on having a good year, I wouldn't come here and play. It's all about the time. You can't do this forever. I'd like to, but you can't do it forever. I feel as though the time is right after this year. There's other things I want to do."

Jeter posted a letter on Facebook last Wednesday afternoon after informing managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner of his plans earlier in the day. He tried Steinbrenner the night before to let him know about his decision, but he never received a call back.

"I didn't recognize the area code so I didn't check the voice mail until the next day," Steinbrenner said. "Some crazy area code. Usually somebody texts me and that's what he did the next morning. So he texted me, and then I called him right away. So my bad. I don't check voice mail. I need to be better about that. But it was a surprise. I figured he was calling to talk about the team, improvements we needed to make still. It was a surprise."

The entire team, players and club hierarchy sat and listened to Jeter, who several times thanked the Steinbrenner family.

"I've said it time and time again, the thing that means the most to me is being remembered as a Yankee," Jeter said. "That's what I always wanted to be, was a Yankee, and I have to thank the Steinbrenner family that's here today and our late owner, The Boss, because they gave me an opportunity to pretty much live my dream my entire life. And the great thing with being a Yankee is you're always a Yankee, so in that sense it never ends."

With David Lennon

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