Un-four-gettable: The Core values its role in Derek Jeter's final home opener
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The Core Four was together again, but was it the last official Opening Day at Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada?
Former Yankees greats have always made their way back to the Stadium, and although Jeter's Core mates spoke of returning with frequency, Jeter was noncommittal as he appeared with his three ex-teammates for the ceremonial first pitches on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium Monday.
"There's no telling where I'll be next year at this time," Jeter said when asked if he will be available to throw the first pitch. "It's awkward to try and sit here and think about what I'll be doing two or three years from now, or when I'm coming back, or if I'm coming back when I'm [still] playing a season."
Jeter did not make sentiment part of what essentially was his day, saying: "It's kind of tough for me to be reflective on something that's the beginning of the season. It's my last home opener but it's the first game here this year, so it's kind of hard for me to juggle having emotions for the last when it's also the same time the first, if that makes sense.
"Home openers are special. I'm pretty sure next year when they have their home opener, I'll miss it a little bit . . . It was a fun day. It was fun right from the start with Andy, Mo and Jorge."
That feeling is mutual, and it was made abundantly clear after Rivera and Pettitte threw first balls to Jeter and Posada. "Any time we all get together, it's special," Pettitte said. "It's cool to see Derek out there in his uniform. We're all pulling for him to have a good, healthy season."
Rivera, in his first year out of pinstripes, identified himself as being "on the other side. The last one standing is Derek. I just want to wish him the best, make sure that he stays healthy all year and has a great time."
Even as he nears 40, Jeter is the youngest Core member. "He's got a lot more mileage on his body than all of us," Posada said. "He doesn't seem like he's worn down. He's in great shape."
Pettitte said it is fitting that Jeter is the last to retire.
"It's appropriate. He's a great player," he said. "I know he could continue to go longer if he wanted to. You don't know exactly all his reasons for retirement. But I knew all along, as we were all around, we were going to try and push each other as hard as we could to continue to win championships."
And now the Core's role is to be reminders of past championships. "I know us coming up, we saw Yogi around," Pettitte said. "I look at Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, I'm like, 'I hope they include me in that deal.' All the memories, all the stuff we've been through, I hope we'll be around a lot more in the years to come."
Said Posada, "Another Core Four has got to step up now."