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Core Four reflects on Jeter's final home opener

Pettitte, Posada, and Rivera dwell on comeback for The Captain's "last first"
04/08/2014 11:19 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

The Core Four was together on the Yankee Stadium field once again on Monday.(AP)
"Any time we all get together, I think it's special for all of us. It's just cool to see Derek out there in uniform, and all of us in street clothes are all pulling for him to have a good, healthy season."

Those are the words of Andy Pettitte, who sat alongside Core Four mates Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera Monday afternoon to dote on the fourth member of that quartet, Derek Jeter, and talk about returning to Yankee Stadium for Jeter's final home opener.

The Core Four was together once more to take part in a pair of ceremonial first pitches, and as Posada revealed, there was actually a whimsical reason why he caught Pettitte's pitch and Jeter caught Rivera's.

"I asked Derek who he wanted to catch," Posada said, before joking that "he didn't have a choice, so I said 'Mo's throwing sinkers and cutters so I'm catching Andy!' and he laughed."

The day was the first in at least a year - since last spring training sometime, Jeter surmised - that the fearsome foursome has been together on the field. Doing the latest reunion on the mound at Yankee Stadium made it all the more special for the retired trio, who spent a lot of time there over the last two decades.

"The last time I stood there it was a wonderful moment, when Derek and this guy (Pettitte) took me out of the game," he recalled. "For me, it's special any time I have a chance to be on the field with them. The feeling is wonderful."

Added Pettitte: "Yankee Stadium is a special place for us, and it always feels like home. It's an honor to be here."

Jeter is the only one of the Core Four left standing after Pettitte and Rivera's retirements last winter, but if you ask them, they always knew The Captain would be the one to close the book on the fab four.

"Unless he had some kind of severe injury, I knew he'd be the last, and it's appropriate; he's a great player, and with all the dynamics that factor into it, the biggest thing is that he's younger than us," Pettitte said of Jeter. "I feel like he could continue for even longer if he wanted too, but he has his reasons for retiring."

Rivera added in a jocular tone that it helped that Jeter isn't married with children like the rest, and Posada brought it all together with a testament to Jeter's longevity.

"He's the youngest of all of us, and he's played more than all of us I think and has a lot more mileage on his body, but I don't think he's shown any signs of slowing down," the ex-catcher said. "He's in great shape this year and I look forward to a great season."

With 2014 being Jeter's 20th and final season, the Core Four will leave baseball next winter with a combined 74 years of Major League experience; they all came up in 1995, and Pettitte's three-year sojourn to Houston aside, spent nearly two decades proverbially attached at the hip.

Even in retirement, Posada (and now Mo and Andy) will make frequent enough guest appearances to keep the band together, and they will all likely be together again later in the season if and when the Yankees honor Jeter - and none of them are worried that the Core Four will "die" once Jeter retires and the active connection is gone.

"The next time we'll be together (after this season)? Probably opening day next year, although all of us will be in street clothes," Posada said, with Rivera "guaranteeing" that "we will see each other for a lot more years."

Added Pettitte: "I'm hoping that we're around for a long time together doing stuff like this. I don't know exactly what the Yankees' plans are, but for us, we feel like we're part of this organization and want to be for a long time."

Once Jeter retires, they will officially become the "old guard," and while the three retirees are already living it, Pettitte laughed that he still doesn't believe he belongs.

"As we were coming up, we saw Yogi around and guys that have done good stuff, and it's hard for me to even mention my name in that breath," he said, joking that "when I look at Mo and Derek, I hope they include me in that kind of deal! With all the memories and everything we've been through, I hope we'll be able to be around for years to come."

And come 2015 and beyond, when the Core Four is officially history, their legacy will live on - because as Posada noted, he, Jeter, Rivera, and Pettitte weren't the first bunch to make Yankees noise, and they hopefully won't be the last.

"It's kind of weird, but it is what it is; we have to move on and a new Core Four has to step up now."

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