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Jeter no exception to Yankees' contract policy

TAMPA, Fla. - That's their policy and they're sticking to it.

And Derek Jeter's not complaining.

Addressing his contract situation for the first, and he says only, time this year, the shortstop said Wednesday he's OK with the Yankees letting his contract expire before negotiating a new one.

Closer Mariano Rivera and manager Joe Girardi are also in the final year of deals.

"I don't have a problem with it," said Jeter, who is in the last year of a 10-year, $189-million contract. "The Yankees, that's their policy, that's the new policy that they have. They have every right to do that. I signed a long deal, I'm still under contract with that deal, but they have the right to make any rule they want."

Jeter's agent, Casey Close, contacted general manager Brian Cashman in the offseason to discuss the contract.

"Casey reached out, we had a quick conversation," Cashman said. "It was like, 'Hey, how do you want to handle it? You want to handle it early, handle it late?' I restated our position, it was no big deal. My sense on the phone was, that's fine."

Cashman said the Yankees' policy of not doing new deals with years still left on a contract, which has been in place for "quite some time," isn't "ironclad," though it's hard to imagine who would be the exception if not Jeter.

"If we choose to make an exception, we choose to make an exception," Cashman said. "Right now we're not choosing to make any exceptions."

Jeter spent much of his nearly 20-minute news conference talking contract and repeated what he's often said: The Yankees' uniform is the only one he wants to put on in his career.

"It's always been important,'' he said. "I've said that from Day 1, this is the only organization I've ever wanted to play for, and that's still true today. I was a Yankee fan growing up, this is where I want to be. I never envisioned myself playing anywhere else and hopefully I don't have to."

And, despite his defense of the policy - one Cashman said "ownership without a doubt agrees with" - the GM didn't make it sound as if Jeter or Rivera will wear anything other than the pinstripes in future years.

"These guys are special and that's why I think they're very secure," Cashman said. " . . . They know they've been Yankees for life, and that's what we intend to see happen."

Teams have 15 days after the World Series to negotiate with their own free agents. If deals aren't done then, other teams can make offers. Jeter would prefer that it never get to that point.

"I've never been a free agent, I've never wanted to be a free agent, that's why before I was a free agent the first time I signed such a long deal," Jeter said. "I felt as though the longer the better because I didn't want to have to answer these questions."

Jeter thinks the issue won't become a distraction. "No, because like I said, I'm not going to discuss the contract or next season after today," he said.

"This is the last time I'm going to talk about it because I think it's unfair to be talking about myself when we're trying to win. That's the approach I've always had, that's not going to change. I know that's going to maybe cause a lot of speculation and maybe a few stories out there, but it won't be a distraction because I won't be talking about it."

New York Sports