Derek Jeter spoke for 13 minutes Wednesday about the Yankees’ decision to shut him down due to his ankle issues, but also talked about his future and shushed any talk about retirement. Here’s the full transcript from his news conference at Camden Yards.
Q: How disappointed are you having to sit out the remainder of the season?
DJ: “Yeah, it’s very disappointing. I mean, to not to be able to play, especially this time of year. This is when you want to play. This is when I want to play the most and unfortunately that’s not the case. The entire year has been pretty much a nightmare for me physically, so I guess it’s fitting that it ends like this, huh?”
Q: Does any part of you think it’s not going to heal?
DJ: “No, no, no. It’s healed.”
Q: I mean, might the ankle never be the same again?
DJ: “No, I don’t think that. I’ve talked a lot with both our doctor, Dr. Anderson, and I think it’s – we think – that it’s just a matter of just haven’t had any strength. I haven’t been able to work out my legs, or lift my legs, since October of last year. The first time it broke, you can’t do anything weight-bearing, you can’t work out. I was cleared in spring training and then it was only a couple weeks before I had the second incident and we really think it’s just from a lack of strength. I’ve never been able to work out my legs, because when I came back I had two other legs issues because there was weakness and I think just having a normal offseason, getting back to being able to work out, no one foresees any other issues. [Jeter knocks on table].
Q: Will you be able to do your normal workout this offseason?
DJ: “Yeah. That’s’ the key, to get the opportunity to have a normal offseason in terms of physically having an offseason to work out and strengthen things, which I was unable to do for obvious reasons.”
Q: How much time will you take off now?
DJ: “I don’t know. I think it’s just like a normal offseason – is what I’ve been told. We really haven’t sat down. I mean, look, I was told this was the final decision an hour and a half ago, two hours ago, so it’s really not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. But I have been told it’s going to be a normal offseason. Take a few weeks, however long that it is to rest – I’ve had plenty of rest – but to rest and get back at it.”
Q: Were you surprised by the decision to shut out down?
DJ: “No, I’m not. I’m not surprised because if you can’t play how you’re capable of playing, what you’re used to doing, then you’re really not helping out. I wasn’t moving how I was supposed to be, or should be moving in order to help us. I wasn’t running the way I was supposed to run, so if that was different, then it would probably be different circumstances here. But if I’m not able to play how I want to play, then I’m not benefitting the team.”
Q: When did it become clear you couldn’t play?
DJ: “When I wasn’t moving the way I wanted to move. I wasn’t hitting the way I wanted to hit. I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t throwing the way I wanted to throw. I’m sure some of it probably was a little bit mental as well. Before I broke it the second time, there was some normal soreness there, and I was told there was going to be soreness, you have to work through it -- and then it broke again. Then this time, when there was soreness, I never really wanted to speak on it, so I’m sure I was a little hesitant, so that’s why, when we took the latest CT scan [which was negative], I think everyone was happy with the results of that.”
Q: What will you do for next three weeks? Stay with team?
DJ: “Have pom-poms and go out there and root for my teammates. There’s been plenty of times when they’ve been sitting there rooting for me.”
Q: How dedicated are you to coming back and being at shortstop, despite the injury?
DJ: “Well, I’m not thinking about getting hurt again. It sounds kind of funny saying it now because of considering how many times I’ve been hurt. But I truly believe, with the full offseason, working out and getting my strength back, that I can get back to doing what I’ve always done.”
Q: Will you exercise your $9.5-million player option for 2014?
DJ: “I haven’t thought about that. Like I said, I just found out that this was the result a couple hours ago, so I’ve never played a season thinking about the next one. I haven’t thought about next year, really at all. Now it’s just trying to digest this, I guess, and figure out what the next step is.
Q: Do think there’s any possibility that you just can’t be the player you’ve been in the past and can’t play? You mentioned the ankle issues being in your head?
DJ: “No. Let me clarify the mental part. The mental part was feeling the soreness and wondering if this was going to happen again. Not knowing, because I haven’t spoke on it. But once you get the tests, and realize everything is fine, then no, mentally I won’t think about this again because I’ll have an opportunity to strengthen it, like I said. Everything is attached. I think a lot of times people hurt something. When that heals, you figure that everything is all good and dandy, but you have to work out your other areas of your body , too. So no, there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be back to where I was.”
Q: Any thought to moving on and doing something else with your life?
DJ: “Why? Just because of an ankle injury? No. Look man, people have had a lot of injuries throughout the course of their careers, and I’ve been pretty fortunate to play what, 21 professional years, I think it is. And really only have one significant injury, that was a dislocated shoulder, so I’ve been fortunate to not have these injuries but there’s been a lot of players that have had injuries over the course of the years and they don’t think about what they’re going to do next. You just move on from it. So yeah, let me tell you, it’s bad that I’ve had this year, it’s been a nightmare like I said, but you don’t just start thinking about the end just because you have to deal with an injury that most players throughout the course of their careers have had to deal with something.”
Q: How did it feel to not to be able to play the way you’re capable of?
DJ: “it’s frustrating. But at the time, you just think you fight through it, and you figure it’s going to turnaround, but it just didn’t get any better and it’s just something I really couldn’t hide.”
Q: You’ve seen end of Bernie, Posada, etc? Any thought about how you want career to end?
DJ: “There’s a lot of ‘end’ talk here, man. You guys want this to be the end for me? Seeing that’s why everyone’s asking. Have I thought about it? No. I don’t think you think about the end of anything. You think about, our job is to get ready to play. It’s always been that way. I tried to come back this year as quickly as possible every time I came back. Looking back, maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do. But my job now is to get ready for next year and I’ll do that.”
Q: Looking back, do you think you took too big a risk playing at the end of last season?
DJ: “No. My job is to play, man. Play, you try to do your job as well as you can, and I’ve always said, if it’s not broke, keep playing. And it broke, so I couldn’t play. Then it broke again, and I couldn’t play. So … I’ll be ready.”
Q: Any second thoughts about pushing yourself in spring training to be ready for Opening Day?
DJ: “Don’t take it as I had second thoughts. I think it was a learning experience for me. I’ve never been hurt. You get the test results, hey, you’re ankle’s fine, let’s go. I never really took into consideration how many other things you have to take care of in order to play.”
Q: Has everyone been too optimistic about being ready by certain dates?
DJ: “I don’t know if they necessarily told me I’d be ready by a certain date. I’m the one who put dates out there. I’m the one who said Opening Day. They told me how long they thought it would take for the bone to heal, which they were right. I’m the one that said, listen, I‘m going to play on this day, I probably wouldn’t have said that if I could go back. I don’t ever like to miss games. I want to get back and I want to play as soon as possible.”
Q: How can you be so confident you’ll be ready for next season?
DJ: “Because I’ll have an entire offseason to strengthen legs. And that’s what we’re talking about – strengthening legs. We’re not talking about going back in a boot and making the bone heal. It’s all about strengthening legs, and that shouldn’t take any longer than it would in a normal season.”
Q: What was your initial reaction when Yankees told you of the shutdown?
DJ: “Just disappointment. This is the most fun time of the year. No one enjoys playing this time of year more than I do. And to not be able to help is something that’s new to me because I’ve never had to deal with it.”
Q: Can you embrace the ‘pom-pom’ role?
DJ: “I’ve had pom-poms for a lot of this season already, so it’s, you just try to help out as much as you can in any way that you can and root for your teammates. My teammates have rooted for me enough over the years. Now it’s my turn.”