6/25/2014 7:42 PM
As playing days dwindle, Jeter nears 40th birthday
By IAN HARRISON
TORONTO (AP) — On the eve of his 40th birthday, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter stressed that age is just a number.
"I really don't sit down and look at my age and try to adjust or compare," Jeter said before Wednesday night's game at Toronto. "I've just never done that. I figure I probably shouldn't start now."
"I think the mind is very important and if you start thinking that way, that's when you're in trouble," he said. "My mindset is to treat (40) no differently than any other age. That's just how I cope with it. If you sit around and start talking about how you're getting older, then I think mentally you cause yourself some problems."
Jeter turns 40 on Thursday, an off-day for the Yankees. They open a three-game series against Boston at home on Friday night.
"I'm pretty sure some family and friends will do something like they do for every one of my birthdays," Jeter said of his plans. "It's really no different."
Jeter said before this season that this would be his final year in the majors. The perennial All-Star went into the game against the Blue Jays batting .267 with two homers and 17 RBIs.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi called it "pretty incredible" that Jeter is still a successful starting shortstop as he reaches 40.
"You just don't see people do that every day," Girardi said. "You don't see people play until they're 40. If they are, it's usually in a different league. It's pretty remarkable the career that he's had and what he's been able to do. I tip my cap to him."
New York's franchise leader in hits and the only Yankees player to reach the career 3,000-hit plateau, Jeter said he never expected to be a 40-year shortstop when he reached the majors for the first time in 1995.
"I never projected, I never sat down and said my goal was to play until this particular age," Jeter said. "My goal was to play every year and compete but I never looked that far ahead. When you're 20 years old and you're coming up, you're just trying to keep your job."
With Jeter sidelined by injuries for much of 2013, Girardi has made sure to give his shortstop a break from time to time this year.
"You don't see us run Jeet out there 14 days in a row anymore," Girardi said. "I know that (a day off) is not something he likes to do. His first 10 years of his career you didn't worry about that but now it's different."
Jeter, however, insisted he has no appetite for down time in his final season.
"My job is to be ready to play every day," he said. "I would never go into a season expecting to play less. It's always been that way. I don't like days off, I don't want days off."
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