In a larger piece about Jeter’s improved defense and his new workout regimen, Ian O’Connor delivers a money quote:
Jeter realized he had to alter his method of preparation. He realized he had to improve to meet his stated goal of playing well into his 40s, and of spending the majority of those years at the only position he’s ever wanted to hold.
So with Yankees officials and coaches privately hoping their shortstop could restore his diminishing range and table the ultradelicate issue of a possible move to the outfield, Jeter hired a new fitness trainer before last season for the purpose of fielding more balls to his left.
“We discussed how we can keep him in the game as long as he wants to play,” said Jason Riley, director of performance of the Athletes Compound at Tampa’s Saddlebrook Resort. “Derek said it may not be eight to 10 years at shortstop, but that he wanted to play that long.
Playing another 5-8 years from the end of this season would mean Jeter playing until he was anywhere from 40-43. While some continue to suggest that Jeter will soon need to make a position change, I am not so certain. As long as he keeps his glove at or above league average, something he has done over the last two years, his bat plays better at short than it will anywhere else. It would take a major defensive decline to convince me that he needs to be moved to retain his value.
In regard to his offense, I think that he has the right skill set to stay effective into his 40′s. While bat speed is generally the first thing to go, I would suggest that a player who frequently tries to stay back on the ball and drive it the other way would likely be able to compensate for reduced bat speed. As long as he stays in shape, he should be at worst an adequate answer at shortstop for the next 5 years.
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