Jeter: I want to be a Yankee forever
Derek Jeter reiterated what every Yankees fan wanted to hear: He hopes to play in pinstripes forever.
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.
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."
Jeter said 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."
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 also has 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.
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."