Derek Jeter doesn’t like the age questions. He doesn’t like them when he’s struggling, and he doesn’t like them when he’s off to a blistering start.
“I think that’s pointing out the obvious,” he said last night. “Everybody gets older, but just because you’ve gotten older doesn’t mean you can’t do things.”
“I keep kidding him that it’s like 1999 again, three hits every day,” Alex Rodriguez said. “He’s amazing. You even see him in batting practice, the ball’s just jumping off his bat to all fields. … When you go 10, 15 rows up in batting practice to all fields, that’s pretty impressive. I think whatever he was doing in the second half, he’s just building on it this year.”
The age question keeps coming up because, whether Jeter wants to admit it or not, age matters. There’s no hard rule that says a player can’t be productive past 35, but history has taught us to question a shortstop at Jeter’s age. That’s especially true when he’s gone through an extended slump like Jeter did in 2010 and the first half of 2011.
“When I stay back I feel like good things can happen,” Jeter said. “I went through a long stretch where I didn’t stay back. Now I’m staying back. And if you’re able to do that, good things happen. But it’s not like this is the first time I’ve done it in my career, you know what I mean? It’s just if you stay back, good things happen. I’ve told you guys that time and time again. It has nothing to do with age, it has nothing to do with anything. If the mechanics are good, the results will be there.”
No doubt, the results are there. And as long as that’s the case, Jeter’s age will be exactly what he wants it to be: The most meaningless number of them all.
“He’s playing like he’s 25,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s off to a great start, he feels good physically, and that’s the most important thing. When he went through his struggles last year, there’s one thing I wasn’t going to do. I wasn’t going to doubt him. I know his heart, I know his character and I know how hard he works at what he does.”
Associated Press photo