- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW York -- Darryl Strawberry has been friends with Derek Jeter for 15 years. When asked about Yankees general manager Brian Cashman saying that Jeter could move to the outfield one day, Strawberry snickered.
"It will never happen," Strawberry said at the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T) dinner in midtown Manhattan. "I could never see Jeter playing the outfield. Knowing him as well as I do, as much as he loves the game, and all the great things hes accomplished in the game, as a shortstop, there will be no reason for that. Once he retires, hes a first-ballot Hall of Famer, no doubt about it, so why waste your time messing around in the outfield after youve been a shortstop?"
Strawberry led a chorus of ex-managers and players who think that a possible move of the 36-year-old Jeter to the outfield is a bad idea. Howard Johnson, who transitioned from the infield to the outfield with the Mets, and Davey Johnson -- who managed Cal Ripken Jr.s move from short to third -- said there is no way Jeter makes a move to the outfield.
The only important voice at the B.A.T Dinner that said Jeter could do it is Stick Michael, who is a Yankee Sr. Advisor. Michael said he has not had internal discussions about Jeter moving to the outfield.
"Theres always been talk of Derek Jeter moving to center field but I dont think thats necessarily necessary," Michael said.
Michael thinks that Jeter has the athletic ability to make a move to the outfield, but Howard Johnson doesnt see Jeter playing center because Jeter turns 37 before this seasons All-Star break.
"At his age, I don't see it," said Johnson, who has an undefined position in the Mets organization after being removed as hitting coach. "Anything's possible. I went to the outfield and I was 32 years old, went to center field. That was one of the toughest things I ever did because there's a lot physically that goes into it. It's one of those things, if you are going to do it you've got to do it early. You could go to a corner outfield spot, maybe."
Besides the on-the-field aspects of such a move, there is the off-the-field specter of the legendary Jeter switching positions. Maybe no one in baseball could give Yankees manager Joe Girardi better advice than Davey Johnson.
Besides having won in New York with the 1986 Mets, he had the delicate spot of moving Ripken off of short in Baltimore.
"When you have a great player, like Derek Jeter, he is not moving to the outfield," Johnson said. "Maybe as a putdown he goes to second base. That would be the worst case scenario. I dont see him moving off of short. He is a team leader."
When Johnson arrived in Baltimore, he had to deal with Ripken, who probably had much more control of the organization than Jeter does the Yanees.
"When I came to Baltimore, Cal was actually running the team," Johnson said. "He was calling pitches from shortstop. ... I love Cal. Ive known him since he was a kid, 9 years old. What I had to do when I got there was tell Cal I had the right to move him to third. I had Manny [Alexander,] he wasnt a very good shortstop. But I said, 'I have that right.' He finally agreed with it. Then we got [Mike] Bordick and he said, 'Im going over there.'"
The Yankees aren't prepared to move Jeter yet, but with three years and an option for a fourth on his new contract, Girardi is going to have to pick the right time to do it.
"Girardi whatever he does with Jeter he has to be right so all the players agree with what he did, including Jeter himself," Johnson said.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.
When asked about Yankees GM Brian Cashman saying that Derek Jeter could move to the outfield one day, Darryl Strawberry snickered.