Derek Jeter's replacement already has an impressive title.
Mariekson Julius "Didi'' Gregorius, the young Dutch shortstop acquired by the Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks in last week's three-team trade, said Friday that he was knighted by the Government of the Netherlands in 2011 after the national team's World Cup victory.
That's why his Twitter handle is Sir Didi Gregorius.
"Some people actually call me Sir Didi, but I don't really mind if they just call me Didi," Gregorius said on a conference call from Curacao. "It doesn't really matter."
Gregorius played shortstop as the Netherlands went 11-1 and beat Cuba for the title. "Instead of giving us money, they just knighted us, all the guys that have a clean record," he said.
A message left with the Dutch government to confirm the knighting was not immediately returned.
Now Gregorius, 24, faces the potentially difficult challenge of being the guy who has to follow a once-in-a-generation player as the Yankees' shortstop. But Gregorius doesn't seem the least bit fazed by replacing an icon.
"Jeter's still Jeter, and everything everybody is going to talk about is going to be Jeter," Gregorius said. "For me, I'm learning and I'm there just playing the game, just trying to focus on the game, trying to win the game. That's all I can say. Not worrying about what's going on."
That's not to say he doesn't respect his predecessor.
Shortly after the season ended, Gregorius posted on his Twitter account a black-and-white drawing he sketched of Jeter saluting the crowd after his final home game in the Bronx. Little did he know that a month later, he would be the guy tabbed to replace him.
"I was surprised," Gregorius said. "I've always wanted to play in New York City.''
The defensive-minded Gregorius is a lefthanded hitter, and the Yankees envision him at least starting the season in a platoon with righthanded-hitting Brendan Ryan and playing primarily against righthanders. They hope they've found a guy who can grow into the position for years to come.
The last time they went through something like this was in 1996 with a 21-year-old rookie named Jeter. How'd that work out?
Gregorius was only 10 years old when Jeter won his fourth World Series title in 2000. He said Friday that he remembers watching Jeter play some of those games on television. He recalled Jeter's clutch hitting, his penchant for opposite-field singles and what Gregorius described as Jeter's "signature move -- the jump throw to first."
Gregorius said he has never met Jeter, but surely that day will come. He already has played at Yankee Stadium, depositing a fastball from Phil Hughes into the short porch in rightfield for his first career home run in 2013. But Gregorius said he doesn't expect the ballpark to change his style.
"I won't say I'm going to be a home run hitter," said Gregorius, who has 13 home runs and is a .243 hitter in 647 career at-bats. "For me, I'm going to be more like a line-drive type of guy and make a lot of contact. And whatever happens from there happens.
"I'm learning and improving and that's all I can say."