Derek Jeter won't discuss contract
He just doesn't want to spend time talking about his future in New York.
"I've said from Day One, this is the only organization I've ever wanted to play for, and that's still true today," Jeter said Wednesday before the team's first full-squad gathering at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
"I was a Yankees fan growing up. This is where I want to be. I've never envisioned myself playing anywhere else, and hopefully I don't have to," he said.
The 35-year-old Jeter is entering the final season of a $189 million, 10-year deal. The All-Star shortstop said he doesn't have a set number of years in mind that he'd like to continue playing and steered around a question about whether he has a desire to be the Yankees' highest-paid player.
He said this will be the final time he speaks about his contract status.
Jeter hit .334 with 18 homers and 66 RBIs in 2009, leading New York to its first World Series championship in nine years. The Yankees have won five titles during his career.
"To be honest with you, I never put limitations on how long I can play. ... I want to play as long as I can, as long as I'm having fun, as long as I can be productive," Jeter said. "This organization prides itself on winning and putting a competitive team on the field. As long as I can help out, that's as long as I want to play."
Closer Mariano Rivera is also headed into the last season of his contract. The Yankees have a team policy of not negotiating new contracts until a player's previous deal expires, but it sounds as though the club wants to do everything it can to hang on to both players.
"Let's put it this way, I think from the fans' perspective they can count on those guys being here a lot longer than I'm going to be here. I think they're very secure," general manager Brian Cashman said.
"I don't think there's any sweat off any of these guys' backs. They've been Yankees for life, and that's what we intend to see happen. But again, you start those conversions at a different time and place that you feel is more appropriate," he said.
That will be at the end of the season.
"That's just the practice we've had in place for some time now," Cashman added. "I think these guys are pretty secure in their abilities, their knowledge of how we feel about them, the place they want to be and that lines up for discussions for another day."
Jeter said he doesn't have a problem with the club's stance, adding his status won't become a distraction because he's not going to speak publicly on the matter again until after the season ends.
"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," he said.
"I know it's maybe going to cause a lot of speculation. There may be a few stories out there, but it won't be a distraction because I won't be talking about it," he said.
Team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said earlier this month that the club will address Jeter's contract "eventually," adding that the 10-time All-Star's "place in Yankee history is obvious, so I think you can pretty much assume from there."
Jeter, who has won three Gold Gloves and has also been a World Series and All-Star Game MVP during his 14 seasons in New York, surpassed Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees' career hits leader in 2009.
For manager Joe Girardi, it's difficult to imagine Jeter or Rivera becoming free agents and winding up wearing another club's colors.
"It'd be different, that's for sure. I think when you think about guys like Mo, Jeet, you always think of them as Yankees," Girardi said. "There's certain guys, you expect to see them in one uniform."
Jeter didn't offer any indication of what he might be looking for in a new contract. He also said he's given no thought to how it might affect his legacy if he did not spend his entire career with the Yankees.
"I can't think about what's going to happen after this year. You don't think about what legacy you have when you're still playing. That's something you consider when your career is over," he said.
"My desire is to stay here. I haven't thought about ... how much money [I] want because we haven't sat down to negotiate anything. That hasn't crossed my mind. That's not what I play for. I play in order to try to help this team win. That's what I've always done. My feeling is everything else will take care of itself," he said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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