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Jeter questions dominate Yankees' conference call

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter adjusts his cap

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter adjusts his cap during batting practice before Game 6 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers. (Oct. 22, 2010) Credit: AP

The occasion was the re-signing of Yankees manager Joe Girardi to a three-year, $9-million contract. But the party-crasher - in spirit, if not in body - was Derek Jeter.

During a conference call Friday, Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman fielded many questions about Jeter's impending free agency and how they plan to use him after he re-signs.

Notice that's not "if" he re-signs. No one really expects the iconic shortstop to go anywhere. But the delicate dance of how long he stays at shortstop and whether his performance entitles him to a spot atop the batting order next season could dominate Yankees conversation long after the contract negotiation ends.

Cashman, for his part, said he intends to treat the Jeter talks as just another negotiation.

Good luck with that.

"I don't know what to expect," Cashman said. "I'm going to keep it simple. It's a baseball player we're trying to sign . . . Derek Jeter, our expectation is, he's our shortstop. He's the best candidate to play shortstop for this franchise as we move forward. How we define that in the negotiations remains to be seen. But the 'KISS' principle - keep it simple, stupid - I try to apply it."

Cashman said he has reached out to the agents for Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, all of whom will become free agents five days after the World Series ends. Cashman said he told them the Yankees will hold their organizational meetings starting Monday in Tampa, Fla., and then will commence their offseason work.

Jeter made $22.6 million in 2010 in the final season of a 10-year, $189-million contract. He also had his worst offensive season at age 36. So the vultures already are circling, wondering when and if Girardi and Cashman will broach the touchy subject of a batting-order demotion or position switch.

"I think the most important thing is you handle it with respect for the individual," Girardi said when asked about dealing with older players and diminished roles. "Each individual is going to be different. It's not just one guy we're dealing with here, in a sense. There could be more than one."

Girardi likely was referring to Jorge Posada, who is entering the final year of his contract and could become more of a DH and less of a catcher next season, and Alex Rodriguez, who probably will have to DH more in the coming years.

As for Jeter's spot atop the batting order, Girardi said: "I think we have to look at our whole lineup when we go into next season . . . Our lineup is maybe something that could change a little bit next year."

Notes & quotes: CC Sabathia had arthroscopic surgery Friday to repair a small meniscus tear in his right knee. He is expected to be ready well before spring training . . . Cashman said a replacement for former pitching coach Dave Eiland is "not going to happen quick." Girardi said he expects the rest of the coaches to return.

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