Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jeter focused on baseball not contract

Someday soon, perhaps as early as next week, Derek Jeter will address the media horde to answer questions about his contract situation. The captain of the New York Yankees has already started working out at the team complex in Tampa, focusing on getting ready for the upcoming baseball season. But the Yankees beat reporters have already shown that they consider the expiration of his contract and the refusal of Brian Cashman & Co. to start negotiations on a new one until after the season to be the main non-baseball storyline of spring training.

Of course, they won't get any help sensationalizing the story from Jeter. When that press conference does occur, here's what he is likely to say publicly: that focusing on winning another title is more important than his contract, that he has no problem waiting until the offseason, that the non-negotiations won't be a distraction. I wonder if deep down Jeter is at all annoyed by the Yankees insistence on waiting if for no other reason than he has to answer questions about it. But given how fiercely he guards his privacy, we won't know for sure whether Jeter is bothered by the refusal to negotiate.

Jeter is not the only one who will have to answer these questions. Mariano Rivera will be asked about his contract situation when pitchers and catchers report next week. I imagine he and Jeter will say the same thing: that they are fine with waiting.

In terms of expiring contracts, the real issue is manager Joe Girardi. If the Yanks get off to a bad start, Girardi will be bombarded daily with questions about his job security. Unfair to say the least, given that he just managed a World Series winning team, but that's the way things go in New York.

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