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Derek Jeter: 'I'm four months ahead of last year'

Derek Jeter of the Yankees has a laugh

Derek Jeter of the Yankees has a laugh in the batting cage during practice before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium. (Aug. 13, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

If nothing else, the narrative isn't a new one for Derek Jeter.

"My job is to be ready to play," he said Monday after working out at the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa, according to The Associated Press. "I remember when I was 35, everyone said that was it. He can't play anymore. End of my career. So it's really nothing different. Eventually, somebody is going to be right, you know what I mean? You're going to run out of numbers."

The Yankees certainly hope Jeter's number isn't up this season. Too much depends on the captain, who will turn 40 in June.

Though it might be unrealistic to expect Jeter to be an everyday shortstop at his age, that's where the Yankees find themselves.

While general manager Brian Cashman doled out big money this offseason to headline names such as Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka, the infield remains pockmarked with questions.

Shortstop Brendan Ryan, a strong fielder but not much of a hitter, was signed primarily as a backup. As of now, Brian Roberts is slated to be Robinson Cano's replacement at second, and with Alex Rodriguez suspended for the entire season, Kelly Johnson leads a pack of mostly nondescript options at third.

Along with the age concerns, Jeter is coming off a 2013 season he often called a "nightmare." The left ankle he broke in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS never fully healed, limiting Jeter to 17 games in which he hit .190 (12-for-63) with one homer and seven RBIs.

After being shut down in the second week of September, a frustrated Jeter said he looked forward to a normal offseason of preparation, something he didn't have in 2013 after breaking his ankle.

On Monday, Jeter hit to all fields during a five-round, on-field batting-practice session, his first of the offseason, and took grounders at shortstop, also for the first time.

"This offseason is like a normal offseason," he said. "I'm four months ahead of where I was last year. Last year, quite honestly, I want to forget about it."


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