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Jeter had a rough time adjusting to life in Tampa as an 18-year-old

The Yankees' Derek Jeter walks off the field

The Yankees' Derek Jeter walks off the field after their 2-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in a game in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. Credit: AP / Fred Thornhill

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - That Derek Jeter doesn't say anything particularly profound when speaking to the media, entirely by his own design, long ago reached cliche status.

And that has largely continued this season when Jeter, starting in Houston for the season-opening series, began meeting with local media in the Yankees' final stop to any city.

Popular topics have included (with forms of the same answer given each time):

What he'll do next season: "I'm trying not to make any plans."

What retirement will feel like: "I haven't gone through it yet, so I can't tell you."

And his desire to own a team, something he's said many times in the last decade-plus but for some reason still gets breaking-news treatment: "I would love to be a part of an ownership group one day."

Occasionally, however, a topic that is part of the Derek Jeter public record but not often discussed comes up, and such was the case before Monday's game against the Rays.

Derek Jeter crying. Frequently.

It was born from Jeter discussing the Tampa area, his home for the last 20 years and where he plans to spend his retirement.

"I fell in love with this area a long, long time ago," Jeter said.

But it didn't start off that way.

After signing with the Yankees out of high school in 1992, Jeter's professional career started with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in Tampa. It did not go well.

The 40-year-old Jeter described the 18-year-old version of himself as "just being extremely homesick, struggling very bad, wondering if I made the right decision, crying every night."

Jeter, who hit .202 in 47 games in the GCL before finishing the season with Class A Greensboro, said "crying" should be taken literally.

"It happened," he said. "Didn't do it in front of people but I did it quite a bit. Coming from high school where you had nothing but success and then coming to the professional level where you're completely overmatched and being homesick on top of that. So yeah, those were real tears but I didn't show people for a reason."

Jeter made Tampa his home in 1994 because of the location of the Yankees' minor-league complex, where he starts his offseason workout program.

"I felt as though I moved here originally out of necessity, I needed to work out," he said. "I've always prided myself on working hard and I always thought when I was in the minor leagues if it came down to a decision between myself and another player, I wanted everyone to see how hard I was working. That's why I moved here. I fell in love with this area a long, long time ago. This is home for me. I don't plan on going anywhere."

Jeter said later that the offseason schedule is what he'll probably miss the least when he's retired, another not-often-discussed topic this year.

"I think a lot of times, people make the assumption that when you play a game at 7, you show up at 6, 6:30, put the uniform on, play and go home," he said. "This is a 12-month job, I've always approached it [like that]. I've always taken a lot of pride in working and staying in shape and doing everything I could to make sure I'm on the field. And that starts in November.

"That's the one thing I'm looking forward to not having to do is go out there and pretty much every day, even when you may be on vacation and you don't have any games, you're still thinking about what you have to do in order to get ready for a season. So I won't miss that."

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