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Derek Jeter still unfazed by the finality of 2014

04/07/2014 9:39 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

2014 marks Derek Jeter's final season in pinstripes with the Yankees.(AP)
Derek Jeter has said all along that he doesn't know what 2014 will bring in terms of a farewell tour, and that nothing would change how he approached each day in the final year of his baseball life.

But on Monday, before the Yankees' home opener and his final "opening day" at the Stadium, Jeter did admit that doesn't mean he's not going to feel something every time a milestone moment happens.

"Of course (I get excited or nervous), I just hide it. I'm human, and every human has emotions and feelings, especially here playing in so many important games," Jeter said. "I have butterflies, it happens all the time, but I've just always been good about trying to control my emotions, not get too high or too low. There's a lot of wow moments playing here in New York, but for me, I just felt it was always easier to play if I try to control my emotions."

He's two milestones down so far, last Wednesday's ceremony in Houston kicking off the farewell tour that continued with the rest of the "Core Four" being present for ceremonial first pitches on Monday.

Surely, there will be a lot of those moments as the next six months progress, and hopefully they will continue until Jeter's career "officially" comes to an end with a parade up the Canyon of Heroes sometime in November - but no one is exactly sure what will come along with it.

"I think I'm curious how he's going to handle it, being his last year and how sentimental he gets about certain things," Girardi said. "Something like today, or the last time in a city maybe, I'm curious to see how he handles that. I'm sure he'll take a moment to reflect on that, but will it be visible that he's reflecting on it?"

As much as it may or may not pain him, getting that adulation on the south end of Broadway shortly after Halloween is the only way Jeter wants the "love-fest" to end. But as he embarks on his final season, as Mariano Rivera did 365 days ago, Jeter said there's really nothing he could have gleaned from Mo as to how to handle what Joe Girardi said will be a "season-long love fest."

"It's completely different, because he was a closer and I'm a position player. I have to do things in order to get ready to play," Jeter said. "I don't know what it's going to be like, but I still have a job to do, to get ready to play in a game. That's what comes first. I'm going to try to enjoy each day and have fun, but you have to sort of balance it."

The Captain wouldn't speak for Rivera but said he thought "The Sandman" enjoyed his farewell tour; that kind of pomp and circumstance has never been Jeter's style, but for those thinking that he won't "enjoy" the extracurricular activities surrounding his so-long, think again.

"I will enjoy it, so those who think they know me are wrong in that way," he said. "Every city I go to, every game I play, I will enjoy it. But at the same time, I get the fact that I have to play a game and a season. I think not enjoying it is the wrong way to put it; balancing is the right way to put it. I don't know how I'm going to react or feel (when ceremonies happen), but I do understand my priority, and that won't change just because it's my last year."

All that said though, Jeter wants to wait to fully reflect on Monday, or anything else that happens between now and the end of the season, until it's all in the books.

"For me, it's hard to reflect on something being your last when it's the beginning of the season," he said. "It's my last home opener, but it's also our first game here this year, so it's hard to juggle emotions. Home openers are special, and I'm pretty sure next year I'll miss it a bit, but I'm excited that we got the season underway. Today was more excitement than anything; I'm not really focusing too much on things being the last."

There's a chance that could change - Jeter said it might, but right now he's "not really focusing too much on things being the last, so I don't think it will be difficult for me" - and his manager said that it will be hard for perspective not to as the "season-long love-fest" goes on.

"I don't know if in Game 13 he'll still get a standing ovation when he walks up to the plate but I think it will be a love-fest and an appreciation-fest, with people trying to soak it all in like they did with Mo," the skipper said. "He's meant a ton to his organization."

But as for whether or not Jeter will join Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte in any type of "return" in 2015 or beyond, don't even ask Jeter about that.

"There's no telling where I'll ne next year at this time," he said. "I'm not there yet, so I can't sit here and tell you what lies ahead, because I'm still playing this season."

And that, after all, is - and always has been - Jeter's priority.

"It's awkward to sit here and try to think about things like (the future) right now. I'm just excited and looking forward to the season we have in front of us," he said. "Our expectation level every year is to win a title every year, and this year is no different."

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