Derek Jeter turned 38 years old today.
“Some of the guys might talk about certain things — they were giving him a hard time about some of his hair yesterday — to me, he’s the same guy,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s probably not quite as boisterous in the clubhouse as he used to be, and he’s probably not quite as silly as he used to be in the clubhouse, but to me, he’s the same guy that comes prepared to play every day and loves to play the game. The biggest difference is he’s matured a little bit, but that’s about it.”
As you can imagine, Jeter seemed completely indifferent to his birthday, but after talking about it for a few minutes, he opened up a little bit — as much as Jeter ever does — about what it’s like to get older in this game.
What’s good about getting older?
“You have more experiences, I think, is probably the best way to sum it up. That’s probably it. The more you play, the more experiences you have, the more you learn about the game, the more you learn about yourself. That all comes with age, I guess. … I think when you’re younger you just go out and you basically get by on ability. I think as you get older you learn your body more, you learn your abilities more and you learn different ways to improve. I think that comes with experience.”
Does it get harder to stay in shape?
“You probably spend a little bit more time getting ready, but I don’t know if you’d say it gets harder. When you’re younger you come in, you show up, you get dressed, you don’t even stretch, you just go out there and play. Now it’s more of a process, but I think it’s something that you learn through time that you have to do. I don’t know if you want to say it gets harder, it just gets longer.”
Do you feel different than you did 10-15 years ago?
“I don’t remember. There’s days, there’s little things that you feel that maybe you didn’t feel as much when you were younger. But when I feel good, I feel good. I feel as good now, besides little things. There’s no noticeable difference, I don’t think.”
Do you become more aware of the fact that you have to retire at some point?
“I was always aware of that. I always know that you can’t play forever. Especially here where you have a lot of guys that come and go. A lot of guys that I’ve played with have retired. Some come back. Yeah, I’ve always understood that, but I’ve never prepared for the end of something. I just haven’t done that. I don’t sit around and think about when the last game is going to be.”
How does it feel to have more hits at this age than Pete Rose?
“I don’t think about it. I really don’t. I try to figure out ways to get hits today and not think about what’s happened in history or how many hits I have now. Every single day you just try to do your job. … I don’t come in here today thinking about what I did yesterday. I don’t come in today thinking what could happen tomorrow. It’s just what you can do in that particular day, otherwise I don’t think you could play this game, because it’s a day of ups and downs. I’ve always tried to take it day-to-day.”
• Girardi said he came into this week planning to start Dewayne Wise a few times because the Yankees are facing a lot of right-handers and playing a lot of days in a row. Yesterday’s big game didn’t necessarily earn Wise another start. “I had planned on playing him a little bit,” Girardi said. “I’ve even thought about giving Curtis one more DH day in this week before we go out on this next road trip, so I had planned on playing him some.”
• Russell Martin took swings in the cage today, and now he’s out on the field hitting in BP. Girardi said he needs to see him hit with no problems before putting him in the lineup tomorrow. “Just that he’s free and easy when he’s taking his swings,” Girardi said. “That seemed to bother him the most. We expect him to take some swings in the cage; if that goes okay, he’ll take BP and if that goes okay, he’s probably a player tomorrow.”
• Brett Gardner is expected to take dry swings in the middle of next week. The idea of him being back by the all-star break is a pipe dream. Girardi acknowledged that Gardner will have to play some minor league rehab games after the break and won’t be back until near the end of July.
• Girardi also downplayed the need to make a move to fortify the outfield. “I think we’re okay with the platoon situation out there,” he said. “These guys have done a pretty good job. It allows us to rotate our DH. That’s something we’ll look at. Obviously you’d like to have some speed, but I think we’re okay. We might do some other things to help us out; who knows?”
• Remember Pedro Feliciano? He threw a bullpen today. “He’s trying to get back,” Girardi said. “A realistic date? I don’t really have one, but a bullpen is a lot closer than when we left spring training. He’ll continue to throw some bullpens, hopefully everything goes okay and he feels okay and then we’ll get him in a BP. We’ll kind of keep our fingers crossed.”
• We’ll give the final pregame word to Andy Pettitte, speaking about Jeter’s birthday: “Obviously it’s all gone by so fast,” Pettitte said. “You just blink your eyes and it feels like it wasn’t that long ago that we won the first World Series. It makes you appreciate it. Makes you appreciate what we’ve been able to do, to be around the guys that were here that we did it with for a long time, it’s been fun and it’s been special. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to play with some great players.”
Associated Press photos