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Beltran undergoes surgery on ailing right elbow

Beltran undergoes surgery on ailing right elbow

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran underwent surgery to remove loose pieces and a bone spur from his troublesome right elbow on Tuesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and the Yankees outfielder is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

The Yankees said that the procedure was performed by head team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad, and that Beltran can begin throwing and hitting in approximately six weeks. Beltran would be cleared to begin playing in approximately 12 weeks.

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Beltran, 37, was envisioned as the Yankees' everyday right fielder after signing a three-year, $45 million contract last offseason, but he was able to play just 32 games in the outfield because of injuries, appearing in 76 games as the designated hitter.

"It's been tough, man, honestly speaking," Beltran said this month. "It's hard on your mind every day when you wake up, and you feel it, and you're like, 'Man, I've got to try to find a way.' The good thing is, once this is over, it's going to be fixed and I don't have to worry about it again."

Beltran batted .233 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 109 games in the first year of his deal. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Monday that he expects Beltran's production will improve now that the elbow situation has been addressed.

"Carlos is going to be a year older, but his injury was probably something that he had for a while," Girardi said. "It just reared its ugly head this year. You can look at a lot of elbows and probably find something similar to that. It's just a lot of them are asymptomatic."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Girardi feels playoff letdown, but excited for '15

Manager expects a healthier team in spring, with Tex, Beltran powering lineup

Girardi feels playoff letdown, but excited for '15

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's final farewell to baseball consumed the Yankees' last weekend of play, delaying all the usual emotions that come with ending a season before October. Speaking to reporters from his usual perch at Yankee Stadium on Monday, manager Joe Girardi -- still recovering from the excitement of the Captain's exit -- delivered a dose of reality while looking toward a new era in Yankees history.

"I think it's not making the playoffs," Girardi said of his team's biggest letdown. "That's why we come to work. That's why the players and the coaches and the front office and everyone involved works so hard and people in the stands -- we all look to play in the month of October. That's our focus and that's what's so disappointing."

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Injuries certainly played a part in the Yankees' difficulties in 2014, and Girardi hopes they're less of a factor next year.

"I look around and say we have a lot of good pieces; we do," Girardi said. "Obviously, when you look at your rotation a little bit, there's some guys coming back from injury, but we expect them back and we expect them to be competitive. And you saw some guys come up and throw the ball well. Some guys in our bullpen threw well. … We expect to be a healthier club next year with people being a year removed from surgeries.

"The thing is, keeping guys healthy and productive is our biggest task, and we're going to get younger, just because we're going to lose a couple of older guys."

The Yankees' power-hitting identity changed as players saw time on the disabled list or battled through pain and lingering problems this year. That led to patchwork lineups by the end of the season. On Monday, Girardi chalked up some of the injuries to flukes, like Carlos Beltran's right elbow bone spur.

Girardi also stated that Spring Training would be a time to address issues with the lineup, and the team would work on hitting effectively against a shift. Batting Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order is something the manager said he would consider.

One of the biggest question marks will likely be the return of Alex Rodriguez, whose suspension will expire after the World Series ends. Girardi said he expects him to be the Yankees' third baseman, though he's been removed from the Majors for a year.

"We've got to see where he's at," said Girardi, who has texted Rodriguez 1-2 times a month to check on him. "I think that's the thing that we have to do. He's going to be 40 next summer, and we have to see where he's physically at and if he can play the field, how many days he can play the field and how many days he needs to DH."

Girardi hopes a healthy Masahiro Tanaka will attract some of the media attention away from Rodriguez, but jokingly concluded that "something else will happen in sports that will help with that. That's the nature of sports, too. Something's going to happen."

Girardi assessed the uncertainty surrounding many positions -- including closer David Robertson and his impending free agency -- with optimism. The skipper is extremely excited about starter Michael Pineda -- who posted a 1.89 ERA on the season -- and watching Beltran and Mark Teixeira play healthy.

"I really still believe that there's enough talent in that room … to score runs. I do," Girardi said. "We didn't do it enough this year. I understand that. But I still believe there's enough talent in that room, and time is going to tell."

With Jeter's farewell season complete, Monday marked the beginning of a new chapter in Yankees baseball.

"Maybe you establish a different core," said Girardi. "Maybe it's not called the Core Four, maybe it's called the Core Eight. Because we believe that there's talent in our Minor League system. Are we going to see a lot of it next year? I don't know how much of it we're going to see. But it's getting here, and to me, that's very exciting."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Final act: Jeter collects RBI single, then exits

Yankees' captain completes career with hit No. 3,465, .310 batting average

Final act: Jeter collects RBI single, then exits

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter's final morning in a big league uniform started by fielding a housekeeping question and then absorbing an interesting factoid. The first part was obligatory: yes, of course he planned to be in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Red Sox.

That was the response Joe Girardi expected, and so the Yankees' manager nodded, then fired his follow-up. Jeter's plan was to have two at-bats -- no matter the results -- and then exit. Girardi noted that two more hits would give Jeter an 18th season of 150 or more hits, tying an all-time record. Did he care?

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"It didn't mean a whole lot to him," Girardi said. "He's all about winning. Obviously, we're going home and he's very sad and we're all sad, but it's never been about him. It's been about the rings, and going out and playing winning baseball."

Or, as Jeter put it: "I never played this game for numbers, so why start now?"

So Jeter's career ended in the third inning as he slapped a 93-mph Clay Buchholz fastball off home plate to the left side of the infield, with the Yankees' captain running hard down the first-base line, just as he has done countless times before.

The ball hung "up in the stratosphere," according to third baseman Garin Cecchini, who tried but was unable to bare-hand the ball. Ichiro Suzuki scored as Jeter reached safely without a throw, then motioned to the dugout that it was time to go.

"I would have loved to hit a home run like everyone else, but getting hits is not easy to do," Jeter said after the Yankees' 9-5 victory. "I don't care how far it goes, where it goes. I have no ego when it comes to hits. It's either a hit or an out. I've gotten a lot of hits like that throughout my career, and they all count the same."

Jeter finished with 3,465 hits, sixth all time and the most ever by a Yankee, and that stat Girardi spoke about will continue to belong to Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Pete Rose. But Jeter has 17 seasons of at least 150 hits, and that keeps him in some good company.

"I'm tied with Hank Aaron. That's enough for me," Jeter said.

Jeter also walked out of Fenway Park as the Yankees' franchise leader in games played (2,747), at-bats (11,195), runs (1,923), doubles (544) and stolen bases (358), owning a lifetime batting average of .310.

"I've had a blast," Jeter said. "Listen, I got an opportunity to do what I wanted to do -- the only thing that I ever wanted to do. I know that not a lot of people can say that. I've been fortunate, but I've had fun. There isn't a thing that I would change."

After signaling to Girardi, Jeter waited until pinch-runner Brian McCann lumbered across the infield, then offered the slow-footed catcher a hug. McCann said that he told Jeter, "Congrats on everything, you're the best."

Jeter shook hands with Buchholz near the mound and trotted off to thunderous applause, exchanging greetings with third-base coach Rob Thomson, then a procession of teammates out of the dugout that started with Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner.

Doffing his batting helmet near the third-base dugout, Jeter lingered for a few extra moments, soaking in the ovation before descending the dugout steps as the Red Sox and the fans applauded.

"There's been a lot of ugly times in this rivalry, things you wouldn't necessarily want everyone to see," Girardi said. "But for one day, everyone came together."

Jeter's final two hits were of the infield variety this weekend, going a combined 2-for-4 against the Red Sox after his memorable walk-off single to beat the Orioles on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. At Jeter's request, the Yankees had taken on-field batting practice on Sunday.

"I asked him if he wanted to hit today," Girardi said. "And he said, 'You know I always want to hit.' So I said, 'We'll hit then.'"

Jeter jogged onto the field at 11:13 a.m. ET for a team stretch in left field and began hitting in the cage eight minutes later, a session that was watched on the field by former manager Joe Torre as well as New York sports super-fan Spike Lee. He briefly halted his session to greet Rusney Castillo of the Red Sox; the 27-year-old Cuban outfielder had wanted to meet Jeter.

The Yanks, Jeter included, howled with laughter at the end of BP when Teixeira and McCann were pitted in a 40-yard dash across the left-field grass to determine the slowest Yankees player. Teixeira beat McCann in the race easily; humorous, considering McCann would run for Jeter a few hours later.

"Everyone's been wanting to see who was faster between me and him all year, so we made it happen," McCann said.

"Once we were out of it, we knew we were going to race at some point this weekend, and it was inevitable that I was going to win," Teixeira said. "Let's be honest here. We just had to make it official."

It was that kind of afternoon. As emotionally rattled as Jeter was on Thursday in New York -- losing his batting glove, forgetting an elbow guard and retreating to the bathroom often to hide his tears -- this was just a warm afternoon in the park, enjoying a last day with the boys before saying goodbye.

"I don't care if I came to Boston and I hit a home run every single at-bat," Jeter said. "If I hit four home runs while I was here, for me personally, it just couldn't have topped what happened.

"New York has been a special place for me. The way that game ended at home, you couldn't have written the script. When I got here, I was just ready. I'm ready for my career to be over with, so I tried to have as much fun as I could."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yanks could look to market to fill out lineup in '15

Tex, Beltran expected to return healthy, with Gardner, Ellsbury up top

Yanks could look to market to fill out lineup in '15

NEW YORK -- The last two times that the Yankees finished the regular season without the gates opening for a playoff game, they adhered to what can be called the Steinbrenner playbook: open the checkbooks and chase the biggest fish in free agency, stealing the headlines for the winter.

Now that the Yankees are spending October on the golf courses for the second consecutive year, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner will again have that option, intending to field a championship-caliber team in 2015.

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The first order of business will be securing the architect of that club. General manager Brian Cashman's contract runs through Oct. 31; the organization is expected to offer Cashman an extension to stay in the position he has held since February 1998.

"My stuff's not really resolved, so there have been no discussions just yet," Cashman said. "I'll wait until we all sit down with ownership. They can map out their strategy and who's going to be a part of that, and we can go from there."

In analyzing the shortcomings of the '14 Yankees, Cashman pointed to issues with the offense and defense, areas that were upgraded as the year went along. The pitching side of the team was a season-long strength.

"We didn't hit, for the most part, all year when we needed to, especially in scoring position," Cashman said. "We were deficient on the defensive side for a good portion of the season; that improved significantly with the additions and subtractions. But offensively, we never really could get it going. The pitching was tremendous and somehow we fixed that, which is harder typically to do, but the offense, we could not fix."

The Yankees believe that some of those problems may correct themselves, particularly in the cases of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, who should have their surgical issues further in the past. Teixeira's right wrist was touch-and-go this year, and Beltran will have a bone spur removed from his right elbow.

But there are questions that could be answered from outside the organization, and so it should be no surprise if the Yankees begin to engage with a host of free agents: big-name pitchers like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields, perhaps, while searching for Derek Jeter's replacement at shortstop -- J.J. Hardy, anyone?

No one is talking about getting under $189 million this winter, as the Yankees seem on track for another $200-plus million payroll in 2015. They have about $27 million coming off their payroll in Jeter and Hiroki Kuroda, but will be redirecting most of that to the returning Alex Rodriguez ($25 million contract). They also added a pricy piece this summer by acquiring Martin Prado ($11 million).

Here is a preview of where the Yankees stand heading into the 2014-15 offseason:

Arbitration-eligible: C Francisco Cervelli, LHP David Huff, RHP Shawn Kelley, RHP Ivan Nova, RHP David Phelps, RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Esmil Rogers, C Austin Romine.

Free agents: LHP Chris Capuano, SS Stephen Drew, 3B Chase Headley, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Kuroda, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP David Robertson, OF Ichiro Suzuki, OF Chris Young.

Rotation: Assuming they're healthy, the one-two punch of Masahiro Tanaka and Pineda at the front of the rotation would be a formidable way to set things up, but there are questions attached -- Tanaka missed 10 weeks with a partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament and Pineda was limited to 13 starts by injury. CC Sabathia is coming back from right knee surgery and should be serviceable, though his days of being the lead horse in the rotation seem to be over. McCarthy has expressed willingness to return and would help round out the middle of the staff, especially if Kuroda retires. Nova is coming off Tommy John surgery and probably won't be ready until the second half, but Shane Greene showed enough in his rookie campaign to suggest that he can play a part moving forward.

Bullpen: Robertson converted 39 of 44 save chances after taking over Mariano Rivera's old job, and the Yankees will at least make him a qualifying offer to return. Betances gives them a solid backup plan if Robertson departs, but there is value in keeping Betances as a four- or five-out reliever who can put out fires ahead of the ninth inning. Kelley will be due a raise in arbitration, and the Yankees figure to have a spring battle for jobs that could include Adam Warren, Chase Whitley and Rogers.

Catcher: Brian McCann will be the starter, and the Yankees hope that he can pick up where his second half left off -- particularly September, when he crushed eight of his 23 homers. There seemed to be more to the adjustment process in switching leagues and adapting to New York than McCann let on, but maybe that's in the past now. Cervelli provides a solid option to return as the backup, with John Ryan Murphy also waiting in the wings.

First base: Teixeira is under contract for two more seasons and will be slotted in for regular play. He wore down physically in the second half after spending the past winter rehabbing, so Teixeira said that he wants to begin his winter workouts early to curb injuries and a similar slowdown. Using Jose Bautista and David Ortiz as a blueprint, the Yankees believe that Teixeira's second year back from wrist surgery will be less unpredictable than 2014.

Second base: The versatile Prado is under contract for an additional two seasons; he saw time in the outfield this year with New York and still could, but Prado presents a solid in-house option for the middle infield. Prospect Rob Refsnyder will also be given a chance to win the job in the spring.

Shortstop: With Jeter now spending his days by the water in Tampa, Fla., the Yankees need a replacement. They're unlikely to lean upon Brendan Ryan or Drew -- the latter of whom is also a free agent -- to fill the starting role. Hardy of the Orioles paces the list of possible free-agent pickups and said that he would "of course" listen if the Yankees came calling. There are plenty of options -- Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez could also be considerations, or the Yankees could pursue trades for the Blue Jays' Jose Reyes or the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins.

Third base: The satellite trucks will be parked at the Minor League complex early in 2015, as Rodriguez will return from his season-long suspension. The Yankees expect him to report in baseball shape, but it is unclear what level of production Rodriguez will be able to provide, coming off two hip surgeries and a long layoff. Rodriguez declined to play winter ball, but is doing two-a-day workouts and already passed an insurance physical deeming him ready to perform. Expect Rodriguez to require time at DH and perhaps first base as he enters his age-40 season. Headley would consider returning, but he wants to be an everyday third baseman.

Outfield: Barring any trade activity, the outfield figures to have Brett Gardner in left field, Jacoby Ellsbury in center field and -- the Yankees hope -- a healthy Beltran returning from right elbow surgery in right field, after Beltran was limited to just 32 games of outfield duty in the first season of a three-year contract. Girardi should be looking forward to having Gardner and Ellsbury back-to-back at the top of the order.

Designated hitter: Girardi likes the idea of being able to use the DH as a revolving door to give veteran players a half-day, rather than having one full-time DH. Beltran occupied the role for most of 2014 out of necessity, but it would be nice for the Yankees to work A-Rod, Teixeira, McCann and Ellsbury into that mix as well.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Jeter fittingly goes out a winner in final game

Yanks' captain hustles for RBI infield hit, then exits against Red Sox

Jeter fittingly goes out a winner in final game

BOSTON -- In one of several thoughtful moments over the past several days, Derek Jeter reflected on his storied career and noted that though he shared the field with many athletes who possessed more talent, he believes that no one ever gave more of an effort.

With that in mind, Jeter's season-long goodbye ended in fitting fashion on Sunday afternoon, running hard down the first-base line to notch the 3,465th hit of his career. He signaled for a pinch-runner and waved his batting helmet as he left the field, exiting a game that the Yankees went on to win, 9-5.

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"I felt like the time was right," Jeter said. "My emotions were so all over the place on Thursday in New York. When I got here, I was ready. I was ready for my career to be over with. I'm happy I had an opportunity to come and play here in a couple games, but I'm ready for this to be the end."

After a stirring on-field ceremony that included several stars from the Boston sports scene, which Jeter called "unbelievable," the Yankees captain's final at-bat came against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.

Connecting with a 93-mph two-seam fastball on a 1-2 count, Jeter chopped it high in the air to third baseman Garin Cecchini, who attempted to barehand the ball but could not. Ichiro Suzuki crossed the plate on what was immediately scored an infield single.

"I wasn't trying to give him a hit, I was trying to make the play," Cecchini said. "You don't think about that. But after the fact of what happened, you think, 'Oh, man, that was Jeter's last hit of his career, and you were a part of it.'"

Playing on a pair of tight hamstrings after legging out an infield hit on Saturday afternoon, Jeter signaled to manager Joe Girardi that he was ready to come out.

"I knew that was my last at-bat," Jeter said. "I was trying to get a hit. Facing Buchholz, we know how good he is. I was just happy that I ended my career with a hit."

Girardi sent Brian McCann to first base to pinch-run; McCann hugged Jeter and said that he told him, "Congrats on everything, you're the best." Jeter then crossed the infield and surprised Buchholz by offering a handshake.

"I said, 'I know this is kind of odd but I just wanted to say I've enjoyed competing against you over the years and good luck,'" said Jeter, who then waved his batting helmet a few more times to an extended standing ovation before descending into the dugout.

"He didn't have to come up to me," Buchholz said. "He's a class act. That's how everybody knows him throughout baseball. Now he gets to start another chapter. Definitely the classiest person I've ever met."

Girardi said he thought the weekend-long lovefest showed that respect for Jeter is larger than even Yankees-Red Sox.

"I don't know how many people could really unite a crowd like he did today," Girardi said. "Such big rivals, so much history between the teams, but you would have thought it was one team in a sense today."

Jeter finished the afternoon 1-for-2, having lined to shortstop his first time up, and owns a lifetime batting average of .310. He said that he felt it was the right decision to play his last two games in Boston, even though Thursday's walk-off hit in his Yankee Stadium finale seemed like a Hollywood ending.

"You can't take that memory away," Jeter said. "I don't care if I played for another three weeks, that memory is going to be there and it's never going to go anywhere. I played out of respect for this rivalry and the fans here."

Jeter's hit came in a four-run inning off Buchholz. Ichiro, likely also in his final game as a Yankee, opened the scoring with a two-run triple that scored Francisco Cervelli and Jose Pirela. Mark Teixeira also had a sacrifice fly in the frame.

Michael Pineda completed his season with a strong performance, holding the Red Sox to three hits over 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out 10 as the Yankees notched their 84th win of the year, one fewer than last year.

Buchholz allowed five hits and four runs over six innings, and the Yankees pulled further ahead with five runs in the seventh, with Pirela, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine and Chase Headley all driving in runs.

With Jeter watching from the top step of the dugout, Boston cracked back with five runs in the seventh off Pineda and Esmil Rogers before Adam Warren and David Phelps logged the last seven outs of the Yankees' season.

"The only way it could have worked out better is if we were playing next week," Girardi said.

The end came enveloped in a quirky tribute to Jeter. With a 2-2 count and two outs, Phelps got Dan Butler -- whom the scoreboard showed batting .222 with two outs -- to stamp the official ending on Jeter's career with a fly ball to left field.

"I'm happy being known as a Yankee. That's the only thing I've ever wanted to be, the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and I had an opportunity to do that for 20 years," Jeter said. "Being remembered as a Yankee is good enough for me."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Voting underway to decide Hank Aaron Awards

Help decide this season's top offensive performer in each league

Voting underway to decide Hank Aaron Awards

Voting is underway through Sunday exclusively at MLB.com to help decide the 16th annual winners of the Hank Aaron Award, given by "The Hammer" himself during the upcoming 110th World Series to the outstanding offensive performer in each league.

American League nominees include Nelson Cruz of Baltimore, David Ortiz of Boston, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Michael Brantley of Cleveland, Victor Martinez of Detroit, Jose Altuve of Houston, Alex Gordon of Kansas City, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Trevor Plouffe of Minnesota, Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees, Josh Donaldson of Oakland, Robinson Cano of Seattle, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, Adrian Beltre of Texas and Jose Bautista of Toronto.

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National League candidates include Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, Justin Upton of Atlanta, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Devin Mesoraco of Cincinnati, Justin Morneau of Colorado, Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Giancarlo Stanton of Miami, Jonathan Lucroy of Milwaukee, Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets, Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh, Matt Carpenter of St. Louis, Seth Smith of San Diego, Hunter Pence of San Francisco and Anthony Rendon of Washington.

Goldschmidt is going after his second straight Hank Aaron Award, having been the NL choice last year for the first time. Miguel Cabrera was the AL recipient each of the past two years, but V-Mart's nomination by Detroit means an end to that streak.

"As one of the game's most talented and respected players ever, it is appropriate that Major League Baseball recognizes the top offensive performers in each league with an award named in honor of Hank Aaron," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Each of the nominees should be applauded for their outstanding seasons, which will make selecting just one winner in each league a difficult task for Hank, our Hall of Fame panel and our participating fans."

"I am honored to have my name on the award given by Major League Baseball to the top offensive performers in the game," Aaron said. "Each of the nominees is talented and deserving, which makes me grateful to have the assistance of my fellow Hall of Famers and the fans to help select the winners."

For the fifth consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron will join fans in voting for the award, which is officially sanctioned by MLB and has recognized the top offensive threat in each league since it was established in 1999.

The panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time -- Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers -- who combined for 16,956 hits, 8,844 RBIs and 2,109 home runs -- have been personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each league.

Do you go with a masher, like Stanton or Cruz? Or do you recognize a guy like Altuve, who led the Majors in batting average and led the AL in stolen bases? Home run kings often fare well in this process, but Chris Davis (53 homers) was trumped last year by Cabrera. And what about Trout, often referred to as the game's best player?

Past winners of the Hank Aaron Award include Cabrera and Goldschmidt (2013); Cabrera and Buster Posey (2012); Bautista and Matt Kemp (2011); Bautista and Joey Votto (2010); Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols (2009); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis (2008); Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006); Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds (2004); Alex Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Rodriguez and Bonds (2001-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000) and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).

The award was introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. At that time, it was the first major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yanks fall short of playoff goal in Jeter's farewell season

Four-fifths of rotation goes down with injuries; Tex, Beltran limited by lingering issues

Yanks fall short of playoff goal in Jeter's farewell season

NEW YORK -- If someone had marched into Joe Girardi's office this spring with a prediction that four-fifths of the Opening Day rotation was heading for the disabled list, the Yankees manager would have replied that his team was going to have a tough time making it into the playoffs.

Girardi's club missed out on postseason ball for a second consecutive season in 2014, but the pitching was not to blame. This campaign will ultimately be remembered for two reasons: it was Derek Jeter's final season and a year in which the big hitters in the middle of the order just never seemed to get on a consistent run.

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"It was a disappointing year offensively for the whole team," Mark Teixeira said. "We all just need to get a little bit better."

Though they opened the checkbooks to sign big hitters in Brian McCann (five years, $85 million), Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million) and Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million), the Yankees spent most of the summer wondering why they ranked near the bottom of the league in runs scored.

"It's certainly something we didn't anticipate and certainly have tried to address in-season," general manager Brian Cashman said. "And we'll try to really analyze it when the dust settles."

Ellsbury turned in a decent first campaign in New York, and others -- like Brett Gardner -- contributed, but hitting coach Kevin Long landed in the hot seat early, as the Yankees were unable to keep that alive long enough to make a serious run at the division.

"It's just been one of those years where the results on an everyday basis aren't there," Long said.

It hurt when All-Star Masahiro Tanaka sustained a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament  on July 8 and wound up missing 10 weeks, but Cashman was improbably able to patch that hole by importing Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano, while landing on a gem from within in rookie Shane Greene.

"Obviously, we knew that we would miss [Tanaka]," Girardi said. "But I think our starting pitchers have done a pretty good job in his absence. It sure would have been nice to have him."

Disappointing years from Beltran, McCann and Teixeira highlighted a sputtering offense that forced the Yankees to play a lot of tight games, which in turn had a cumulative effect on a bullpen that was otherwise a season-long strength.

"You look at the games we've lost: 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 or whatever -- there's not a whole lot of wiggle room," Girardi said.

The Yankees finished the year without a .300 hitter for just the sixth time since 1968 and did not wield a 100-RBI player for the first time in a non-strike season since 1992.

"We've had flashes of being pretty good, but for the most part, we've just struggled to get guys across the plate," Gardner said. "It's frustrating, because with all the injuries we had to our rotation, the guys that have come up and come in from other places have really stepped up and done a great job."

For the second consecutive year, the Yankees mixed and matched on the fly, shaking up their roster and setting a new franchise record for players used.

They rode a hot hand early, giving rookie Yangervis Solarte playing time at third base before shipping him to the Padres for Chase Headley, and by midseason, Alfonso Soriano, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson -- all members of the Opening Day lineup -- had also been jettisoned in favor of different personnel.

A remodeled Yankees team tried to mount a run in August, getting a boost from Martin Prado's versatility. McCann's bat came around after a first half that he described as "horrible," and Jeter enjoyed a late-September surge, but the Yankees were still unable to close the gap in their chase for the second Wild Card spot.

"It's definitely not something we expected coming into Spring Training," Gardner said. "The lineup that we had put together, the guys that we had there in February looked pretty good on paper. We've had a few injuries, but you can't make excuses. Other teams have [had injuries], too."

Record: 84-78, second place in the American League East.

Defining moment: You could point to Tanaka's injury as the day that the Yankees began to wonder about their fortunes, but we'll go with the afternoon of Feb. 12, when Jeter clicked 'Post' on the Facebook announcement heard around the world. Jeter's declaration that 2014 would be his final Major League season had a ripple effect through the entire campaign, from the tributes and ceremonies to the patches that the club wore starting on Sept. 6. Girardi bristled early in the season that he "wasn't hired to put on a farewell tour," then rejected outside criticism and continued to bat Jeter second, rationalizing that Jeter had always been at his best in must-win games.

What went right: Betances was dominant in an All-Star campaign. ... Ellsbury stayed on the field for 149 games after averaging just 96 a year over the last four seasons with Boston. ... Gardner set new career highs in homers and RBIs. ... Headley hit a walk-off single in his Yankee debut on July 22. ... Jeter was honored in every road city, did not spend a day on the disabled list and finished his career ranked sixth on the all-time hit list (3,465). ... If this is Hiroki Kuroda's last season, it was a good one. ... McCann hit 20 home runs for the seventh straight year. ... McCarthy found new life after struggling in Arizona and being traded for Vidal Nuno. ... Michael Pineda finally made his Yankees debut and pitched well. ... Prado hit .316 in 37 games. ... David Robertson assumed Rivera's closer role and was reliable. ... Tanaka was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in his first 18 starts. ... Chris Young found success in the Bronx after being released by the Mets. ... Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill and Joe Torre were all inducted into Monument Park, with the Yankees retiring Torre's No. 6.

What went wrong: Slowed by a bone spur in his right elbow, Beltran was limited to just 32 appearances in the outfield. ... Francisco Cervelli missed 55 games with a right hamstring strain. ... Stephen Drew never got his bat going after struggling in Boston. ... Jeter endured an 0-for-28 slump late in the year, the second-longest of his career. ... Johnson played several positions, but never got in a groove, then went on to help the Orioles to the playoffs. ... A back injury knocked Shawn Kelley from a setup role ... McCann posted a .671 OPS in the first half. ... Ivan Nova had an 8.27 ERA in four starts before having Tommy John surgery. ... Pineda was ejected from an April 23 game in Boston for using pine tar, then didn't pitch again until Aug. 13. ... Roberts batted .237 and was released in July. ... CC Sabathia was just 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA in eight starts. ... Soriano's bat, so productive late last year, was out of magic. ... The Yankees discovered Tanaka was injured after his start on July 8 in Cleveland. ... Teixeira had trouble staying on the field and needed three cortisone shots in his right wrist.

Biggest surprise: Betances was a one-time starter when he forced his way onto the team with a dominant spring, showcasing a high-90s fastball as well as a nasty slurve that made life difficult for opponents. The 26-year-old shattered Mariano Rivera's single-season club record for strikeouts by a reliever (130).

Hitter of the Year: Ellsbury was productive in his first season of a seven-year, $153 million contract, batting .271 with 27 doubles, five triples, 16 homers and 70 RBIs while stealing 39 bases and having 45 multihit games. He was used out of his optimal position, batting third often due to injuries, but projects to spark the Yanks' lineup more efficiently at the top of the order in 2015.

Pitcher of the Year: Tanaka. Even though he lost 10 weeks to injury, the 25-year-old gave his club a chance to win almost every time he took the ball, changing the tone of the entire day. Concerns about his adjustment to the American League seemed unfounded as Tanaka had baffled hitters swinging and missing with regularity, especially at his vicious splitter.

Rookie of the Year: Betances. The only other rookie relievers with as many strikeouts in a single season are Mark Eichhorn (166 in 157 innings for the Blue Jays in 1986) and Dick Radatz (144 in 124 2/3 innings for the Red Sox in 1962).

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Red Sox toast Jeter with exceptional ceremony

Yanks' captain greeted by many Boston sports heroes, Ice Bucket Challenge's Frates

Red Sox toast Jeter with exceptional ceremony

BOSTON -- On the last afternoon of his big league career, Derek Jeter received one more sendoff from the Red Sox and several fellow captains of the Boston sports scene, paying their "RE2PECT" prior to the last game of the regular season.

The manual Fenway Park scoreboard was changed to read, "WITH RE2PECT 2 DEREK JETER," and Jeter stood at his shortstop position as a long line of iconic Boston stars came out of the first-base dugout to greet him, beginning with Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.

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"It was unbelievable. I didn't know anything about it, what was going to happen or who was going to be here," Jeter said. "All the things they've done, it was hard to envision what would happen, because this is a place where we've been an enemy for a long, long time.

"For them to flip the script this last time I come here, it made me feel extremely proud and happy that I was a part of it."

Former Red Sox players Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield, Rico Petrocelli, Jason Varitek and Fred Lynn were also involved in the 30-minute ceremony, followed by appearances from Bruins legend Bobby Orr, former Patriots captain Troy Brown and former Celtics captain Paul Pierce.

"Even though I played baseball, I have an appreciation for athletes in all different sports," Jeter said. "To have them come out here, take time out of their schedule to come out here for this ceremony today for me, it meant a lot.

"I hadn't met most of them. I got a brief moment to thank them for taking the time to come out, but hopefully I'll get a chance to talk to each and every one of them a little bit more throughout the years. I know I'll have some time."

The ceremony also included a long video montage of highlights from the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, with great moments on both sides. Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield, who helped mold Jeter's defense in a crucial boot camp in the mid-1990s, presented Jeter with a pair of commemorative L.L. Bean Yankees duck boots.

"I thought it was magnificent," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I can't really imagine how you can do it any better at a visiting ballpark. It was special. It was really enjoyable to watch."

The entire 2014 Red Sox team, led by David Ortiz, walked onto the field to exchange greetings with Jeter, with Joe Kelly stopping to take a cell phone "selfie."

"[Growing up], I had Yankees pinstripes in my bathroom," said Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini, who attempted to bare-hand Jeter's last career hit in the third inning. "I have a bobblehead of him in my room. I'm glad I got to shake his hand. I told him, 'Congrats, and thanks for being a good role model for kids like us.'"

Dustin Pedroia gave Jeter a base with the No. 2 on it to commemorate the 153 games he played at Fenway, and Jeter was given a large metal sign with "RE2PECT" written in Fenway's font, signed by the '14 club. The Red Sox also made a $22,222 donation to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.

"I thought the pregame ceremony played out not to be overstated, probably to reflect the wishes of Derek himself," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And that's just assumed on my part. I thought it was done with a touch of class."

In the most emotional moment of the ceremony, the Red Sox played Jeter's Ice Bucket Challenge video that was taken earlier this year in the Yankees' clubhouse, then introduced former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates, one of the driving forces behind the successful fundraising effort.

As Frates' wheelchair moved onto the diamond, Jeter greeted him on the grass. Frates then took his place alongside Orr, Brown and Pierce as Massachusetts native Michelle Brooks Thompson performed a rendition of Aretha Franklin's "Respect," and then the national anthem.

There was one more surprise for Jeter in the seventh inning. The Red Sox trotted former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams on the field to perform "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on his guitar, creating the strange scenario where Jeter and Williams both heard their names chanted at Fenway Park.

"When Bernie was with us, he sat behind me on the plane," Jeter said. "He played his guitar non-stop, so I've heard it quite a bit. I think it was cool to have Bernie be a part of this. I think the fans really enjoyed it."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Having done baseball proud, Jeter's legacy will endure forever

Having done baseball proud, Jeter's legacy will endure forever

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter said goodbye the way we always figured he might. That is, he did his job. Isn't that the thing that defined him for 20 seasons?

When he takes a deep breath and reflects on all of it, he's sure to look back and take pride in always being part of a greater whole, a team.

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He stepped to home plate for the final time in the top of the third inning on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

It had been another day of ceremony and emotion as the Red Sox honored him with a pregame ceremony that was absolutely perfect.

He stood alone at shortstop as a parade of Boston legends walked onto the field to shake his hand.

Carl Yastrzemski was the first. Rico Petrocelli followed and then other Red Sox greats -- Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek.

And then some of Boston's legendary captains -- Bobby Orr of the Bruins, Troy Brown of the Patriots and Paul Pierce of the Celtics.

After that, Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield stepped out of the home dugout and headed toward Jeter.

This surely was a moment Jeter will hold dear, one that brought a flood of memories. Butterfield is one of the game's legendary instructors, and he was a coach with the Yankees when he first met Jeter in 1994.

Jeter was 19 at the time and coming off a season in which he'd made 56 errors. Butterfield helped remake Jeter as a defender, got his career off and running.

David Ortiz led a parade of Red Sox players onto the field. He embraced Jeter warmly, followed by others, ending with Dustin Pedroia.

The Red Sox replayed Jeter's Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS on the video board, and Pete Frates wheeled himself across the infield. His battle with ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge across the country.

He was followed by the perfect finishing touch. Michelle Brooks Thompson grabbed a microphone and walked across the diamond belting out of rousing version of "Respect."

Jeter lined out to Red Sox shortstop Jemile Weeks in the first inning, then stepped back up in the third with Ichiro Suzuki on third base.

With the Yankees already leading, 2-0, Red Sox manager John Farrell pulled his infield close.

Jeter pounded a 93-mph Clay Buchholz fastball onto home plate. It sailed high into the air, and when it came down, it bounced off the bare hand of Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini.

Jeter legged out the hit, and Ichiro scored. As Yankees catcher Brian McCann stepped from the dugout and headed toward Jeter to run for him, another packed house realized it was over.

Jeter embraced Red Sox first baseman Allen Craig and then a parade of others as cheers echoed through the majestic old ballpark. They began with "Der-ek Je-ter" and as he entered the dugout, changed to, "Thank you, Der-ek."

That this place where the Red Sox and Yankees have had so many tough, tense battles would rally around one player from the other team should be one of the lasting tributes.

"I don't know how many players can do that in any sport," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But I think it shows you the respect he has even against your toughest rival. That was pretty special."

He took a place at the top of the dugout to watch the rest of the afternoon, maybe to exhale a bit and attempt to grasp that this was it.

Later, when asked for about the 100th time what legacy he would like to write for himself, Jeter answered simply.

"You want to be known as someone who had respect for the game, respect for your teammates, respect for the fans, respect for the media, played the game hard," he said.

He said again and again he is leaving with zero regrets.

"I'm happy being known as a Yankee," he said. "That's the only thing I've ever wanted to be, the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and I had an opportunity to do that for 20 years. Being remembered as a Yankee is good enough for me."

Before the game, Girardi informed Jeter he needed two hits to tie an MLB record of 18 seasons with at least 150 hits, held by Ty Cobb, Pete Rose and Tris Speaker.

"I never played this game for numbers, so why start now?" Jeter said. "I'm tied with Hank Aaron [with 17 seasons of at least 150 hits]. That's enough for me."

His RBI was the 1,311th of his career and came in his 2,747th game. The hit was his 3,465th and nudged his career batting average to .310.

"I had a blast," Jeter said. "I had an opportunity to do what I wanted to do and all I ever wanted to do. Not a lot of people can say that. I've been fortunate. There is not one thing I would change. This is what I wanted to do."

As impressive as his numbers are, they won't be the first thing people remember about Jeter. When people think of him, they're likely to recall that he was a big part of one of the great runs the Yankees ever had, that he was on 16 teams that went to the postseason and that he batted .308 on the game's biggest stage.

They'll remember that he handled good times and bad with grace and with dignity. In that way, he did his sport proud. His story can't be told strictly with mere numbers, and as the cheers fade away, his true legacy will endure forever.

After the game, Girardi choked back tears when he was asked what it had been like to manage Jeter.

"It's been a blessing," he said, his voice cracking, "to manage a guy that's what you want in every player. What you want every player to care about. What you want every player to fight for. What you want every player to do."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Jeter hits RBI single in his final at-bat

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Jeter hits RBI single in his final at-bat

Derek Jeter is a narrative machine. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Jeter's career ends with love, emotion

Jeter's career ends with love, emotion

BOSTON -- The fans at Fenway Park were still chanting Derek Jeter's name throughout the ninth inning on Sunday, which tells you all you need to know. He was hours gone from his final game, and by and large they were Red Sox fans, but as Jeter found out as he made his final tour around the Major Leagues this season, the love was universal.

From Anaheim to Minnesota for the All-Star Game to Citi Field for his final clashes between the Yankees and Mets and finally to Boston deep in the heart of the rivalry, there were no dissonant chords sounded from the baseball fanerati.

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"It was very, very surreal," said Jeter, his Yankees gray road uniform shed for one last time, replaced by a charcoal gray suit. "Yankee fans travel. Let's get that straight. They travel everywhere we go. But to have fans saying good things about you and have the other team's uniforms and hats on, it was awesome. It's why we play the game. You play the game hard and when you do that I think people have respect for you. They showed me that all year long and I appreciate it."

Watching an entire baseball career is much like sending your child off to college. You are witness to the ups and downs, the growth, the inevitable aging process. And when you are deep in it you think it will always be thus. But in the end, you look back in wonder. How could that all have happened so quickly? It was over in the blink of an eye.

And that's how Jeter went out for good during the third inning of Sunday's 9-5 Yankees win -- in the blink of an eye. A called strike, a ball, a foul into the stands, a high chopper that third baseman Garin Cecchini couldn't handle. As usual, Jeter ran hard down the first-base line, knocking in his 1,311th run with the infield hit.

Jeter said beforehand he wanted to take just two at-bats, but manager Joe Girardi looked toward him from the third-base side dugout with his arms open wide, asking in pantomime what he wanted to do. "Come out" was the answer, and Brian McCann jogged from the dugout as an unlikely pinch-runner.

The afternoon began with a superb ceremony resplendent with former Red Sox captains, plus great captains from other Boston sports teams: Bobby Orr of the Bruins, Troy Brown of the Patriots and Paul Pierce of the Celtics. Jeter had never met any of them. By the time the hugs, handshakes and ovations were finished after Jeter's last hit and he was back in the dugout, the clock read 2:27 p.m. ET and his 20-year Major League Baseball career was over. Just like that.

"I felt like the time was right," Jeter said. "I felt like I was all over the place Thursday in New York and by the time I got here I was ready. I was ready for my career to be over with. I was happy I was able to come here and play for a couple of games, but I'm ready for this to be the end."

Jeter finished as the top Yankee in all these categories: 3,465 hits, 2,747 games played, 544 doubles, 358 steals and as the only Yankee to play 20 contiguous seasons in New York. He is also second behind Babe Ruth with 1,923 runs scored and the all-time Major League leader with 200 postseason hits and 111 runs. His regular season hit total is sixth on the all-time Major League list and the most of any shortstop. These are all major accomplishments, not to mention the five World Series rings and seven American League pennants. But for Jeter, putting on the pinstripes was more than enough.

"For me, I'm happy to be known as a Yankee -- that's all I ever wanted to be, the shortstop for the New York Yankees -- and I had the opportunity to do that for parts of 20 years," he said. "To be remembered as a Yankee is good enough for me."

Girardi said he was obligated on Sunday morning to tell Jeter that with two more hits he'd have 150 on the season tying Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Pete Rose. That trio all had 18 seasons with 150 or more hits. It made no difference to Jeter, who smacked a solid liner snared by Boston shortstop Jemile Weeks in the first inning. No matter, he was locked in at taking only two at-bats.

"I've never been into the numbers," said Jeter, content to finish tied with Hank Aaron at 17 seasons with 150-plus hits. "So why should I start now?"

Jeter certainly was about the excitement and turmoil of the last six days. On Wednesday, the Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention. On Thursday night he played his final game at Yankee Stadium and one of few in his career in the Bronx that had no meaning as far as postseason consideration was concerned. Still, the house was packed and the hometown fans electric, chanting his name incessantly as the innings faded away and Jeter began to face the realization that his career was basically over.

His walk-off, game-winning single put a punctuation mark on an evening that will long be remembered in Yankee history.

"Look, you can't top what happened on Thursday," Jeter said. "I don't care if I came to Boston and I hit a home run in every single at-bat, hit four home runs while I was here. For me personally, I couldn't top what happened. New York has been a special place for me. The way that game ended, you couldn't have written that script. I wouldn't have bought into it."

Frankly, the trio of games at Fenway this weekend became an afterthought and Jeter knew it. Still, he took four at-bats as a designated hitter -- two each on Saturday and Sunday -- finishing with a pair of infield singles. As promised after the game on Thursday night, he never spent another second at shortstop, tallying 2,674 games played at that position.

The Red Sox put on a show, all three games were sold out and Jeter obliged.

"When I got here I was ready, ready for my career to be over with," he said. "I thought about not playing here. But I said I would play. A lot of fans told me that they came a long way to [see] these last games. I thought it was right to play here. You can't take that memory of what happened in New York away from me. I don't care if I played another three weeks. It's always going to be there. It's never going anywhere."

Neither is the memory of Jeter's entire career. Talk about impact. That's why the fans of Fenway were still chanting his name long after he was gone.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yanks have quite a few players with uncertain futures

Club has decisions to make about bringing back Ichiro, Robertson, McCarthy, Headley

Yanks have quite a few players with uncertain futures

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter walked out of a Fenway Park gate on Sunday afternoon, looking forward to a brave new world of summer barbecues, vacation travel and some choice business opportunities. Several of his Yankees teammates left the building with less certainty.

Ichiro Suzuki started the season without a defined role and managed to bat .284 in 143 games for the Yankees while playing solid defense and running well, showing that while his All-Star days may be over, he can still be a productive player at the big league level.

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His time in New York appears to be over -- Ichiro sidestepped a question about his willingness to return, saying, "That might be a question that you shouldn't ask right now" -- but he said that he does want to continue playing.

"Obviously, a lot of things go on that the fans and the media don't see, but what I can say is that the experiences I've had this year will help me in the future," Ichiro said through an interpreter. "It will be somewhat of a support for me because of the experiences I had this year. It will help me in the future."

Ichiro, who turns 41 in October, said that he does not know how many more seasons he would want to play, but said that he feels "great" and would prefer to play in a starting role.

"I don't know where I am going to be, but obviously as a player, you want to play and be in that position," Ichiro said. "If you don't feel that way, I don't know why you play the game. Of course you want to be in that position, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. Stuff like that happens, too, but you want to be in that position."

There are other questions. David Robertson took over Mariano Rivera's closer role and posted a 39-save season, and the right-hander will be eligible for free agency. Robertson said that thought did not cross his mind as he wore his road gray uniform in the bullpen on Sunday.

"I don't know what's going to happen, we'll just see how things play out," Robertson said. "I did a pretty good job. I wouldn't say it was the best I've ever done, but I did well enough."

Right-hander Brandon McCarthy pitched well after a midseason trade from the D-backs, going 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts. Amid several injury-related questions about next year's rotation, McCarthy has expressed interest in returning to New York.

"There is nothing from my time here that I've seen that makes me think, 'That's a hands off,'" McCarthy said. "The coaching staff and team were great, the facilities, everything is top notch. Nothing turns you off to playing here."

Chase Headley batted .262 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 58 games after being acquired from the Padres and said that his preference would be to play every day in 2015. That may not be possible with the Yankees, where Mark Teixeira is locked in at first base and Alex Rodriguez is expected to return at third base.

"Tremendous people, tremendous players and coaching staff," Headley said. "I've loved every second of being here, and obviously the cherry on top was to play with Jeet in his final months. What a special couple of months. Obviously, I wish we were still playing. If this is the end of my time in the organization, then I've treasured the time. We'll see what happens."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Girardi: Group effort needed to fill void left by Jeter

Girardi: Group effort needed to fill void left by Jeter

BOSTON -- The last of the single-digit Yankees is gone now, and so when the team reports to Spring Training next season, uniform No. 11 -- currently issued to Brett Gardner -- will be the lowest one still remaining in circulation.

For the first time since 2003, the Yankees are likely to begin their season without an official captain, and they may not have one for quite some time. Derek Jeter's retirement will create a void in the clubhouse, one that manager Joe Girardi believes will take a group effort to fill.

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"I think there's a number of guys, I really do. But I don't think it will be one leader," Girardi said. "I think it will be a group of leaders. When I played here in the '90s, we didn't really have a captain. We didn't have one guy. We had a lot of guys that did a lot of things and took care of things."

Girardi noted that in 1996, closer John Wetteland was in charge of the bullpen. Wetteland's departure via free agency created a void that was gradually filled by Mariano Rivera's emergence into the closer's role. That is probably how it will go for the 2015 Yankees.

"The transition didn't happen overnight, but pretty quickly, that was Mo's 'pen," Girardi said. "It will happen, but you won't necessarily see it right away."

Naming Jeter captain was George M. Steinbrenner's decision, ordering it to be done in a hastily scheduled news conference while the club visited Cincinnati in 2003. Jeter became the first Yankees captain since Don Mattingly, who held the title from 1991-95.

Prior to that, Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry served as co-captains in 1986-88, following Graig Nettles' tenure from 1982-84. Thurman Munson had assumed the title in 1976, which was shelved for decades in Lou Gehrig's honor after the 1939 season.

Girardi said that if ownership asked him this winter about naming a new captain, "I would say, 'Wait.' I would say, 'Wait to see who you see really becomes the guy.'"

"You're not going to replace Derek Jeter at all," Brian McCann said. "What he produces on a daily basis is incredible. We just need guys to play hard, that's it. And I feel like we did that. We didn't get it done, but it wasn't from a lack of effort."

It has been suggested that McCann and CC Sabathia could be two personalities to step into a more vocal role in Jeter's absence. Alex Rodriguez also held a good amount of influence with younger players before his season-long suspension and could have some impact.

"I don't necessarily think he would say that [he wants] to be [captain], but Alex at heart is a teacher," Girardi said. "He likes to teach the game and where you're supposed to be and how to play a position. He likes to talk about hitting. Alex loves to talk about the game, but I don't necessarily think that he would seek that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tanaka has rough outing in Jeter's penultimate game

Righty lasts just 1 2/3, while Yankees captain goes 1-for-2 as DH

Tanaka has rough outing in Jeter's penultimate game

BOSTON -- Masahiro Tanaka's next step is to head home to Japan, where he is looking forward to a relatively normal offseason. The idea was that one more start would boost his confidence heading into the winter, but the Yankees are still optimistic that he will be ready to pitch at the top of the rotation next spring.

Tanaka's command was erratic in his shortest start of the season, recording just five outs to wrap up an impressive but injury-interrupted rookie campaign as the Yankees were thumped by the Red Sox, 10-4, on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

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"My goal coming in this season was to stay healthy and keep a spot in the rotation," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "So obviously I wasn't able to do that. I was only able to do half a job, so with that said, I think I'm a little bit disappointed how the season was."

Playing in the penultimate game of his career, Derek Jeter went 1-for-2 with an infield single -- his 3,464th hit -- as New York's designated hitter, receiving standing ovations before both at-bats before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning.

According to manager Joe Girardi, Jeter had told him that he wanted to make two plate appearances and then exit the game. Jeter appeared to slightly tweak a hamstring while legging out the infield hit, but Jeter confirmed that he plans to play the final game of his Major League career Sunday afternoon.

"I'm playing here because I have respect for this rivalry, for Boston, and the fans," Jeter said. "If it was anywhere else, I don't know if I'd play."

An American League All-Star who started his season 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA before being injured in a July 8 start at Cleveland, Tanaka spent 10 weeks rehabbing a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament, fighting the odds to come off the disabled list for two September starts.

He threw 5 1/3 encouraging innings vs. Toronto on Sept. 21 at Yankee Stadium, picking up his 13th victory, but did not show that same effectiveness Saturday. Tanaka allowed seven hits and seven runs (five earned) while throwing just 25 of his 50 pitches for strikes.

"[My] body and the arm is feeling fine," Tanaka said. "Obviously I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be today, but arm and body is fine."

"He struggled with some command today a little bit and wasn't real sharp with his fastball for whatever reason," Girardi said. "We asked him, 'Do you feel good?' and he said, 'Yeah, I feel good.' He got in some bad counts and they hurt him."

Yoenis Cespedes knocked a run-scoring single off Tanaka in the first before Boston sent 14 men to the plate in an eight-run second inning, prolonged by two errors -- one by first baseman Chase Headley and another by center fielder Eury Perez.

All of Boston's damage in the inning came with two outs, as Tanaka permitted five straight batters to reach base before Cespedes' second RBI single knocked him out.

"There was no [physical] problems," Girardi said. "He had just thrown a lot of pitches in those first two innings and I just though it's not smart to send him back out or leave him out there, so I just made a change."

Preston Claiborne relieved and Perez badly misplayed Allen Craig's fly ball to center field as the next five Boston batters also reached.

Tanaka finished the year 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts, striking out 141 and walking 21 in 136 1/3 innings. Girardi said that his ability to return from injury calmed many of the lingering fears about Tanaka eventually requiring elbow surgery.

"I think we feel pretty good about where he's at going into Spring Training," Girardi said. "As I said, there's healthy guys that have problems. Sometimes it rears its ugly head. The fact that he got through these two starts and didn't have any issues, I feel pretty good."

Wrapping up his season for Boston after being acquired July 31 from the Cardinals, Joe Kelly held the Yankees in check for the first seven innings before running into trouble in the eighth.

Jose Pirela legged out a seventh-inning triple and scored on a Brendan Ryan sac fly to break up the shutout. Chris Young knocked a run-scoring single through the left side of the infield in the eighth that chased Kelly, and Stephen Drew greeted Tommy Layne with a two-run double as Kelly was charged with four runs.

"I want to throw a complete game really, really bad," Kelly said. "I've never had one in my career. It's something that makes me frustrated at myself and I let it get away."

The loss confirmed that the Yankees will finish the season with either 83 or 84 victories, marking the first time they will have declining wins totals in three straight seasons since 1986-90.

"We need to be better. We need to execute better next year," Girardi said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Girardi proud of players, but disappointed in club's results

Before Jeter's home finale, Yankees manager holds closed-door meeting

Girardi proud of players, but disappointed in club's results

BOSTON -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed that he addressed the team in a closed-door meeting before Derek Jeter's final Yankee Stadium game Thursday, expressing disappointment that the team has missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

ESPN New York first reported details of the meeting, citing clubhouse sources, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. The report stated that Girardi chided players for being overweight, but Girardi denied that he has a problem with his team's conditioning.

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"I told you all along I was proud of them, but I just wanted to let them know what we expect next year," Girardi said after Saturday's 10-4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "None of us are happy that we're not playing next week.

"These guys played hard. It is unfortunate. You go through an offseason and they work hard in training and when you don't get there, if you don't have disappointment, something is wrong."

The report also said that Girardi wanted to see a hungrier attitude from his team, which went 11-12 in games that were deemed to be "must win" leading up to their mathematical elimination Wednesday.

"The bottom line is that we didn't execute well enough in certain situations, and we have to do better," Girardi said. "That's the thing, whether it's getting a runner over and in, making a pitch when you need to make a pitch. We were in a lot of close games.

"If we could have won five or six more, you might be playing next week. We were in so many, you definitely have some you can remember."

The meeting shifted in tone when the players, led by CC Sabathia, were permitted to present Jeter with several gifts marking his final game in the Bronx. The players offered Jeter a painting of The New Yorker's Sept. 8 cover, depicting Jeter waving goodbye, and a watch.

Jeter has spoken about that gift, saying that it tweaked his emotions: "I almost lost it and I had to turn around," he said after Thursday's walk-off hit to beat the Orioles.

Girardi was irked that details of what was supposed to be an in-house meeting had been leaked to the media, and said that he chose Thursday's game to hold the meeting because he wanted to have it at Yankee Stadium, rather than in the cramped visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park.

It is not out of character for Girardi to hold such a meeting near the end of the season.

"I address the team after every year," Girardi said. "Sometimes I do it the night we either make it or are eliminated. I've done it different ways. I chose to do it [Thursday] to let them know what we expect and get ready. I was direct in the message I wanted to get across. As you well know, that is my personality."

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

One final baseball hurrah for the Yankees' captain

One final baseball hurrah for the Yankees' captain

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter will put on the Yankees gray road uniform one final time on Sunday morning. His 2,747th regular-season game. He'll do this because, well, you know why. That ought to be obvious.

People have bought tickets and made plans. People who love this game want one last chance to see Derek Jeter play baseball. If you've been paying attention these last 20 seasons, you understand this part of the deal.

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He feels an obligation. Will his heart be in it? That's a tough one. If we're being brutally honest, you probably know the answer to that one. Because it's Derek Jeter, he'll try to get there. That's what pros do.

He'll go through all the routines one final time, and at some point, it's sure to hit him that now it is really over. After Sunday, there'll be only memories.

Don't expect an outpouring of emotion. He's probably beyond that sort of thing, having arrived here in the wee hours of Friday physically exhausted, emotionally spent. He wrote the perfect ending on Thursday night with that walk-off single at Yankee Stadium and especially with the outpouring of emotion and celebration that followed.

Who could ask for one more thing from this guy?

Commissioner Bud Selig understands. He was so touched by that ending he had trouble sleeping. He finally grabbed a piece of paper and began scribbling the names of the best players of every generation.

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial. Jackie Robinson and Frank Robinson. Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. For a couple of months now, Selig has told us again and again that it had been an honor to watch Jeter all these years and that what Ted Williams meant to one generation, Jeter means to this one.

So after Jeter wrote one of the great endings any player has ever written, nothing he could do this weekend at Fenway Park could come close to that. No one should have blamed him for leaving just that way. Ted Williams homered in his last at-bat at Fenway Park in 1960, then didn't play during a three-game road trip to Yankee Stadium.

Anyway, Jeter did take Friday off and said he would serve as the Yankees designated hitter on Saturday and Sunday. When Yankees manager Joe Girardi checked with him on Saturday morning, Jeter said he was good for two at-bats.

He got warm ovations before both. He once more heard his name chanted. Red Sox starter Joe Kelly struck him out with a 99-mph fastball in the first inning, then Jeter beat out an infield chopper in the third for his 3,464th hit. He sprinted through first base and appeared to be limping when he returned to the dugout.

His day was over. Girardi said he would again check with Jeter before filling out his lineup card on Sunday. When Jeter was asked if he would play Sunday, he said, "Yep."

Does it matter? It ended in a larger way on Thursday. He gave us all he had. He has done that for 20 seasons. He did it in May the same way he did it in October. He prided himself on that. He never thought he had the most talent, so he determined early on to never be outworked.

"He was always prepared," Girardi said. "He always wanted to play. As a manager, that's all you can ask."

Greatness can be defined a hundred different ways. For Jeter, it was about being conscientious and smart and taking advantage of every single gift he'd been given. He had plenty of physical gifts, but he's special because he maximized them and because he did the game -- and his franchise -- proud off the field, too.

If he were any other player, he might not have even tried to play again.

"If it was me, I'm not sure what I would have done," Girardi said.

From the moment Jeter announced in February that this season would be his last, baseball fans have understood this day would be here sooner than they could have imagined. That's what Sunday represents. One of the great players to ever play the game will put some kind of finishing touch on his career.

Jeter's legacy is secure, and Girardi used the word "sadness" to describe this ending.

"You never want to see a great player leave," he said.

Maybe Jeter summed it up perfectly a couple of days ago.

"I wouldn't change a thing," he said.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Per Jeter's request, Red Sox not using Sheppard introduction

Boston PA announcer will introduce final at-bats of retiring Yankees legend

Per Jeter's request, Red Sox not using Sheppard introduction

BOSTON -- The Red Sox had planned to use the late Bob Sheppard's recorded introduction of Derek Jeter's name for each of his at-bats this weekend at Fenway Park, but at Jeter's request, they will not do so.

According to a Yankees spokesperson, Jeter preferred that the last in-game use of Sheppard's recording came Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, when Jeter lined a walk-off single in the Yankees' 6-5 win over the Orioles.

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Sheppard's last official game at the microphone came in 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium; he passed away in 2010 at age 99. Last week, Jeter reflected on his decision to continue using Sheppard's recorded voice for his Yankee Stadium at-bats, which Sheppard called "one of the greatest compliments I have ever received."

"That was an idea I had a few years before he passed away, to record him announcing it," Jeter said. "Because that's the only voice I had heard growing up, and that's the only voice I wanted to hear when I was announced at home. And fortunately he agreed to do it.

"It was something that I thought was special, especially to the fans. I thought he was special to the fans, and he was a very important member of this organization."

Jeter plans to serve as the Yankees' designated hitter against Boston on Saturday and Sunday, so the final at-bats of Jeter's career will be introduced by Red Sox public address announcer Henry Mahegan.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Betances' impressive season comes to an end

All-Star won't pitch in final two games, could be closer in '15 if Robertson leaves

Betances' impressive season comes to an end

BOSTON -- Dellin Betances' breakout campaign, which saw him earn selection as an American League All-Star and shatter Mariano Rivera's 1996 franchise record for strikeouts by a reliever, is now complete.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Saturday that Betances will not pitch in the team's two remaining games against the Red Sox. The 26-year-old right-hander ends his year with a dominant 1.40 ERA, 135 strikeouts and a 5-0 record in 90 innings, spanning 70 appearances.

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"My focus was on making the team," Betances said recently. "I knew that if I believed in myself and I had the confidence going into spring that I was going to get that job. I can't tell you that the numbers would be the way that they are because you're facing great hitters on a daily basis."

Girardi said that he would give closer David Robertson the opportunity to log his 40th save in Sunday's season finale, should the opportunity arise. Girardi also said that he plans to play Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira in what will be the last game of Derek Jeter's career.

Looking ahead to next season, Girardi said that Betances' electric campaign makes him an important piece of the planning process. Robertson will be eligible for free agency, and Girardi said that Betances gives them a solid backup plan for the closer role should Robertson depart.

"I think he has the qualities to do it," Girardi said. "But there's a mindset when there's no one behind you, how you handle it. That's what you have to figure out, who can do it and who can't do it. Obviously David Robertson had to answer those questions and he answered it really well. But until you become that guy, people are going to wonder."

Girardi points out that in 1996, John Wetteland was the World Series MVP and left to sign a free-agent contract with the Rangers, handing the closer role off to Rivera. That switch worked out pretty well for the Yankees.

"Mo had one year under his belt," Girardi said. "I think you'd go into camp, if David left, and you'd say -- we're going to find out. But obviously his track record as a late-inning guy is pretty darned good. He would get every shot."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yanks open Jeter's final series with win over Sox

Captain watches from bench as Capuano hurls 6 2/3 strong innings

Yanks open Jeter's final series with win over Sox

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter will make a few more trips to home plate this weekend out of respect for this long-standing rivalry, but after his emotional farewell game in the Bronx, he seemed perfectly content to throw on a hooded sweatshirt and watch from the dugout.

Though the crowd tried to urge Jeter to grab a bat and pinch-hit, the Yankees' captain remained on the bench as a couple of youthful lineups took their cuts, with New York posting a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park.

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"I understand people want to see him, but he's been through a lot," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been through a lot this year. It's extremely emotional. He's given everything he's had inside of him for 20 years, and I respect whatever he does."

With the Yankees getting to town late and the Red Sox long since having turned their attention to 2015, the lineups would not have been far out of place for a Spring Training matchup in Fort Myers, Fla. The Yanks started five rookies and the Red Sox started seven.

David Robertson pitched the ninth inning, entering one night after serving up two long homers that created the opportunity for Jeter's walk-off hit against the Orioles. Robertson pitched around a Xander Bogaerts leadoff single to secure his 39th save in 44 chances.

Robertson, who is a potential free agent after this season, is unlikely to pitch on Saturday but could have an opportunity to secure a 40th save in Sunday's season finale.

"Forty is just a number to me," Robertson said. "The biggest thing for me personally, if I was 35-for-35, that's what I would want to be. I don't want to be the guy who lets people down."

Chris Capuano, who started the year as a Boston reliever and finished it in the Yankees' rotation, wrapped up his season with 6 2/3 solid innings of one-run, four-hit ball. He was touched only by Bryce Brentz's RBI single in the second inning.

"It was kind of an up-and-down year for me, and it's been a really special experience to get to be part of the Yankees for a couple of months," Capuano said. "To finish strong really feels good, especially in Boston."

Capuano walked none and struck out five, finishing his year 3-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 40 games (12 starts) between the Yanks and Red Sox.

"I feel like I learned a lot," Capuano said. "I just got to soak in Derek's last couple of months, and last night was amazing. It was among the best two months I've had in the big leagues, that much fun."

Boston closed the gap in the seventh as Shawn Kelley served up a long Rusney Castillo solo homer that cleared the Green Monster and landed in a parking area beyond Lansdowne Street.

The Yankees logged their 83rd victory of the season and need a series sweep to match their win total from last year. They scored a pair of unearned third-inning runs off Boston right-hander Steven Wright, who held New York to four hits over five innings.

"I played a lot of the younger players today for a couple of different reasons," Girardi said. "Our guys have been going really hard, 17 in a row, and the other thing is, these guys knew the pitcher. They'd seen him in Triple-A."

In the third inning, Eury Perez struck out but reached first base on a passed ball by catcher Dan Butler, and Perez moved to second on another passed ball. Francisco Cervelli knocked the speedster home with a single to left field.

Chris Young followed with a single, and Cervelli scored on an error when the Red Sox were unable to turn a double play on a John Ryan Murphy ground ball.

"They did a really good job of being patient and making me throw strikes," Wright said. "They made me throw my fastball a lot more than I would have liked today."

New York added a run in the sixth off Matt Barnes. Murphy doubled to right field, advanced on Austin Romine's first big league hit of the year and came home on Zelous Wheeler's sacrifice fly to right field.

Jeter said before Friday's game that he plans to serve as the designated hitter on both Saturday and Sunday. Asked if that is still the case, Girardi said that he is continuing to leave all decisions up to Jeter.

"Whatever he tells me," Girardi said. "I'm sticking to that. Whatever he tells me he wants to do, that's what we're going to do."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cashman contacts A-Rod regarding his return in '15

Suspension over at end of season, Yankees infielder has passed physical

Cashman contacts A-Rod regarding his return in '15

BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez's suspension is set to expire at the conclusion of the regular season, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Saturday that the organization has started speaking with Rodriguez about how he would return to the lineup in 2015.

Cashman said that Rodriguez is performing twice-daily workouts, both in Miami and Los Angeles, but said that he would not be interested in playing in a winter league to prepare for next season.

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"He's going to plan on working with our staff in Tampa at some point this winter," Cashman said. "He looks forward to reintroducing himself in a positive way for us going forward."

Cashman said that he does not know what to expect, production-wise, from Rodriguez in 2015 because of his "unique circumstance." The Yankees will dispatch strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause to assess Rodriguez's health in the near future, but Rodriguez already has taken a physical for insurance purposes.

"He passed a physical," Cashman said. "He's a go, physically fit to compete, now it's about getting him back into shape so he's a quality player."

Cashman said that the main reason he reached out to Rodriguez about 10 days ago was to gauge his willingness to play in winter ball, which would have made further paperwork necessary. Since then, they have remained in some level of contact.

"The main thing I needed to do was know how much time I was going to invest with our insurance companies to find out if winter ball was an option," Cashman said. "I needed to find out the coverage on that aspect of it.

"I don't have to waste my time on that because winter ball's not an option. He's obviously going to continue his workouts and be worked out by our personnel, both strength and conditioning as well as our field staff, as we prepare for Spring Training."

Cashman said that Rodriguez and the Yankees have had professional interactions in recent weeks and are trying to focus on the future. Rodriguez is owed $61 million by the club over the next three seasons.

"The process we went through, it wasn't a healthy process for anybody involved," Cashman said. "But the process had finality and now it's about moving forward. Simple as that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Jeter takes a breather in opener against Red Sox

Yanks captain asks for day off after Thursday's whirlwind Bronx sendoff

Jeter takes a breather in opener against Red Sox

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter couldn't remember ever walking into a manager's office and asking for a day off. It was a request that Joe Girardi certainly has never fielded from him, but after Thursday's Yankee Stadium sendoff, it wasn't surprising that the captain needed time to collect himself physically and emotionally.

The final weekend of Jeter's big league career began on Friday at Fenway Park, but Jeter sat back and watched the action from the visiting dugout. Out of respect to the rivalry and the Red Sox's fans, Jeter said that he wants to take his last at-bats as a designated hitter on Saturday and Sunday.

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"If there's anywhere to play besides New York, I guess it's only fitting that it's here in Boston because of all the games that I've played here, the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees," Jeter said. "If you can't do it in New York, this is the next-best place."

Jeter said that he did not sleep much after Thursday's whirlwind game in the Bronx in which he delivered a walk-off single, calling it a special day that he will always remember. Girardi said that he does not consider Jeter to be available to pinch-hit on Friday.

"I don't know if I could play tonight if I wanted to play tonight," Jeter said. "Last night was as special as it gets -- playing your last game at home at Yankee Stadium, the way the fans were, the atmosphere.

"It was supposed to rain and people didn't think we were going to play, and I don't even think there was a raindrop the whole night. Everything was pretty much perfect in terms of the situation we were in for my last game."

Girardi said that he is allowing Jeter to decide how much to play this weekend and in what capacity. Girardi even offered to allow Jeter to manage Sunday's series finale, something that Jeter did not express interest in.

"I talked to him today and said, 'What do you want to do?'" Girardi said. "He said he'd like to have a day. It's always difficult at this point because everyone wants to see him, and I understand that, but he's been through a lot. The team's been through a lot."

Girardi had trouble remembering another situation when Jeter did not fight the idea of a day off.

"Maybe in Spring Training," Girardi said.

Jeter said that he has always enjoyed visiting Boston because of the intense and electric atmosphere, noting that it reached a peak during the 2003-04 battles in the American League Championship Series.

Walking the streets of Boston after lunch on Friday, Jeter said that he heard nothing but support from fans.

"I think after they won, it sort of -- I don't want to say they softened up, but I think they've become a little bit kinder," Jeter said. "And thank you for that."

Even with a perfect ending to his Bronx farewell, Jeter said he was not tempted to skip the weekend series altogether and make Thursday his final big league game.

"No, my plan was always to play here," Jeter said. "I wanted to take something from New York, that's why I said it was my last time playing shortstop. I have the utmost respect for the Red Sox organization and their fans here. I would love to come and play here one last time."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Selig calls Jeter's Bronx sendoff 'a great night for baseball'

Commissioner says no other sport could produce a moment like Yanks captain's walk-off

Selig calls Jeter's Bronx sendoff 'a great night for baseball'

MILWAUKEE -- Among the baseball fans around the world who were glued to the broadcast of Derek Jeter's magical Yankee Stadium sendoff was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Allan H. "Bud" Selig said he watched the whole game.

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"I've seen emotion in my lifetime," Selig said Friday, "but, boy, that was as good as anything I've ever seen. And to think, when he came up, I said to myself, 'It can't happen this way. You couldn't write a script. Nobody would believe it.'

"And sure enough, he did what he always did. Inside-outside swing -- bang! Line drive to right field, and the game was over."

Selig has crossed paths with Jeter a number of times this season, including at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis and at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday as part of Selig's own farewell tour. Jeter, who received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, surprised Selig by interrupting a town hall-style meeting with club employees to present Selig with a framed photo and letter written by Selig's hero, Joe DiMaggio.

They will meet again on Saturday at Fenway Park, the final in-season stop of Selig's ballpark tour. Selig is retiring in January after 22 seasons as Commissioner. Jeter is retiring after 20 seasons with the Yankees.

"I saw him at the All-Star Game and he said, 'Well, we started together and we're going out together,'" Selig said. "As I said before, [we are lucky] that our iconic heroes -- whether it was [Hank] Aaron, [Stan] Musial, DiMaggio, you can go generationally -- have been really good. They've really been good. Robin Yount here.

"So here's a kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., 20 years in the big leagues in New York. I'm not trying to be unkind -- not an easy place. He's said that himself. And watching last night, you talk about affection and respect from people. Wow. It was a great night for baseball."

He paused and added, "Obviously, I'm partial, but only baseball could produce a moment like that. No other sport could produce a moment like that."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Unsure of future, Kuroda seeks advice from Pettitte

Unsure of future, Kuroda seeks advice from Pettitte

BOSTON -- While most of the attention was focused on Derek Jeter's goodbye to Yankee Stadium, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda were finding a quiet corner in the clubhouse, comparing notes on their own season-ending pitching performances.

Pettitte was able to conjure up one more gem in his last Major League start, shutting out the Astros last Sept. 29 in Houston. Kuroda returned home last season, considering retirement, but he kept thinking about Pettitte's gritty performance at age 41.

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It offered him encouragement and inspiration to keep going, and so as Kuroda wrapped up a 199-inning campaign with eight frames of two-run ball against the Orioles, he told Pettitte that he was proud to have pushed himself for another year.

"Before the game yesterday, we talked about Andy's last outing last year in Houston," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "One thing I can say is, the fact that I was able to stay in the rotation the full year without getting injured, that's one thing I can say that fulfilled me."

Now happily retired for the second time, Pettitte told Kuroda that he "really is content" with how his career wrapped up, and that, too, may offer Kuroda some direction for how to handle his future.

Kuroda has entertained thoughts of retirement in each of the past few years, only to return on one-year contracts, but said this past winter prompted his most serious contemplation. He will turn 40 in February and is not sure if he would be interested, should a contract be offered.

"Right now, I cannot imagine what the answer is going to be," Kuroda said. "I'm just relieved I was able to finish the season without getting hurt. If -- and this is a big if -- there are such talks, then I'd have to ask myself and think deeply whether I'd be able to produce."

Manager Joe Girardi said that he wanted to give the Yankee Stadium crowd a chance to salute Kuroda on Thursday, urging him to walk to the foul line before the ninth inning so he could hear an ovation.

"He didn't want to do it, I think out of respect for what was going on, but Hiro's meant a lot to our organization as well and has been a really good Yankee and a really good role model as well," Girardi said.

"This guy takes the ball every [fifth] day. You think about the injuries we went through to our rotation. The oldest guy is still standing. That's because of his preparation and how hard he works. I really wanted to honor him, but he really didn't want to do it."

If Thursday was Kuroda's Yankees finale, he proved to be a most reliable investment for the team coming off his first four big league seasons with the Dodgers. In 97 regular-season starts for New York, Kuroda posted a 3.44 ERA and a 1.155 WHIP along with a 38-33 record that would have been helped markedly by better run support.

"I feel really proud to wear the Yankees uniform for the three years," Kuroda said. "To have that experience, to pitch in a game like yesterday, I feel really proud of it."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Emotionally spent Jeter takes rare break

Emotionally spent Jeter takes rare break

BOSTON -- The day after his chilling and engrossing finale at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter was spent. He was so spent that for the first time in his 20-year career Jeter wanted to sit and that he did in Friday night's opener of a season-closing three-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

That had never happened with any of his three managers, certainly not with Joe Torre, definitely not with Joe Girardi, until Friday night.

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"I'm not playing," Jeter said. "I don't know if I could play tonight if I wanted to play tonight. I haven't slept much. I don't think I really slept, maybe a couple of hours. It's been a wide range of emotions the last few hours."

He'll be back in the lineup as the designated hitter on Saturday and Sunday to finish off his career only out of respect to the Red Sox and the fans of Boston. After grounding a game-winning, ninth-inning single through the 3.5 hole between first and second base in his last New York at-bat to defeat the Orioles on Thursday night, there's not much Jeter has left.

"That's as good as it gets, I think, for me. It's one of those special days that I'll always remember. I can't think of a better way to end my career at Yankee Stadium. You couldn't have scripted it any better," he said adding, "I'm playing here because I have respect for this rivalry, for Boston and their fans. If it was anywhere else I don't know if I would play."

And that's a good thing, even with Jeter out of the lineup on Friday, a packed house at Fenway chanted his name beginning as the Yankees batted in the top of the third inning and on and off throughout the 3-2 Yanks win. The chants were faint in comparison to what occurred during the game on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, but they resounded in his honor just the same.

"I remember coming here in the All-Star Game in '99 and the car that was dropping us off went to the wrong entrance," he recalled. "I was out of the car walking to the stadium and I thought [the Red Sox fans] were going to kill me, they were all over me. So it's funny how things have changed."

Jeter said he was a jangle of emotions on Thursday night, so dazed that he's looking forward to watching the game with family and friends so he can appreciate what happened. He doesn't remember much of it. He remembers ducking into the clubhouse and into restrooms to privately choke back tears. It's not that he didn't openly want to share those emotions, he just didn't think he could.

"I didn't say it was important [for people] not to see it," he said. "I just thought it was important for me to hold it together. I think once I lost it, that was it, I'm done. So I tried to hold it together."

It began with gifts from his teammates in the clubhouse before the game, a painting and a watch. Jeter had to hide his eyes. Then it was the top of the eighth inning with the Yankees clinging to a three-run lead. Fans chanted his name and the TV cameras showed various tight shots of the emotions welling up as he tried to concentrate from his station at short. For the first time ever on a baseball field, Jeter was overwhelmed. The stadium had become a cauldron of electricity building to a crescendo as the last innings, the last at-bats peeled away.

"That's accurate," he said. "I told you, I had to stop myself from crying when I was on the field. I've never really felt like that before. The emotions changed quickly, but that started before the game even began. It just built up and built up. If they would have taken me out of the game, I probably would have lost it. All the reflection and the -- I don't want to say sadness -- but the reflection changed to excitement after the hit. That's why after the game I was pretty excited. It was no longer time to be sad."

So many issues had to conspire for Jeter to come up with a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth -- the two Orioles homers and three runs that tied the score during the top of the inning, Orioles manager Buck Showalter allowing reliever Evan Meek to pitch to Jeter with one out and first base open. That was certainly against the book.

But it was destiny, wasn't it? Buck knew it. Girardi knew it. Jeter's first manager and last skipper wanted to give him one last chance. And in the heat of the moment, Jeter was able to block it all out, slapping the first pitch to the opposite side.

"It was difficult, but I was able to [block it all out] it for two or three seconds," he said. "I was only in there for one pitch. It was hard. It was. For a moment, I don't know, man. I got lucky, I guess."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Jeter saves uniform from final game at Yankee Stadium

Captain was also given ball from walk-off hit, plans to acquire copy of game video

Jeter saves uniform from final game at Yankee Stadium

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter said that he saved the uniform that he used for his final Yankee Stadium game on Thursday, the last time he will wear the pinstripes that have helped define his entire professional life. The actual moment when he took them off is a blur in his mind.

Jeter said goodbye to the Bronx with a walk-off single that gave the Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Orioles. After taking a quick lap of the field that included many hugs, ovations and cheers, he walked down the dugout steps and into the clubhouse, where he remembered his first thoughts as: "I just won this game. Can you believe it?"

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After exchanging a couple of fist bumps with security guards, Jeter -- still drenched from the icy bath he was given on the field -- took his pinstriped No. 2 jersey off at his locker and changed into a workout shirt, in which he conducted his postgame news conference. Jeter didn't give the moment much pause.

Derek Jeter
Jeter says goodbye to the Bronx
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Captain Clutch! Jeter hits walk-off in NYC exit
Jeter rewrites Girardi's script for sendoff
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MLB players react to Jeter's walk-off single
 
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Jeter's walk-off hit
Jeter's emotional farewell
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"I really didn't think about it, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "One, I was wet because they put the Gatorade on me, but I was so excited after the game -- I think it really would have been a different situation had the game ended 5-2.

"But because I was so excited for what had just happened and the whole thing was unbelievable in my mind, I was just happy. Everything happened so quickly in terms of the swing of the emotions. Taking off the uniform, I don't even remember it."

Putting it on for the last time was an emotional enough experience for Jeter, who said that he nearly cracked several times in the clubhouse.

"There were times I had to turn around in my locker or go to the bathroom, or go somewhere that people weren't because I didn't want to break down before playing the game," Jeter said. "That's never happened to me before, but afterwards, it was completely different."

Jeter said that he was given the baseball that he lined into right field off Evan Meek, his last Yankee Stadium hit, and he will do something special with it -- he's just not sure yet. Jeter also plans to get a copy of the game video, and though he has said many times that he does not watch baseball on television, Jeter plans to make an exception.

"The reason I want to watch is because a lot of it I don't even remember," Jeter said. "I mean, I was doing things last night; I almost told Joe, 'Get me out of here.' I was giving signs to [Stephen] Drew on who to cover second base on a steal and there's no runner on first? There were a lot of things going on. I'd like to see how it went because I think I missed a lot of it."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yanks win challenge on safe call at second base

Yanks win challenge on safe call at second base

BOSTON -- The Yankees successfully challenged a safe call in the bottom of the first inning on Friday, with Yoenis Cespedes ruled out after replay review on a tag play at second base.

With two outs, Cespedes lined a ball to left field off the Green Monster that was fielded by Chris Young. Cespedes attempted to stretch a single into a double as he slid under a tag from second baseman Jose Pirela.

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Cespedes was initially ruled safe by crew chief Larry Vanover. Yankees manager Joe Girardi challenged the call, and a brief review overturned it, as Cespedes briefly came off the bag.

It marked the Yankees' 28th challenge of the season; of those calls, 23 have been overturned, three have been confirmed and two have been ruled to stand.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Captain Clutch! Jeter scripts walk-off in home finale

Emotional star drives in three runs; Kuroda's gem overshadowed

Captain Clutch! Jeter scripts walk-off in home finale

NEW YORK -- There had been a healthy amount of discussion about orchestrating Derek Jeter's exit from the field, how best to provide that chance to say goodbye after this final game in the Bronx. The Yankees should have known that no one was going to script it better than he would.

After choking back tears for nine innings on his last night wearing pinstripes, Jeter stamped an exclamation point on the end of his New York career, slashing an opposite-field walk-off single in the ninth that lifted the Yankees to a 6-5 victory over the Orioles on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

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"This is all I've ever wanted to do, and not too many people get an opportunity to do it," Jeter said. "It was above and beyond anything I'd ever dreamt of. I've lived a dream."

Accompanied to the plate by the last in-game use of Bob Sheppard's voice, Jeter jumped on the first pitch he saw from Evan Meek, sending pinch-runner Antoan Richardson diving home safely from second base. Jeter watched the play and bounced near first base, pumping both fists in the air before being mobbed by his teammates in an ecstatic celebration.

"You think about all the big hits that he's had in his career, and all the things that he's done to help this club win championships and divisions," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been here since the run that started in '96. I don't think there's a more fitting way for it to end."

The sellout crowd of 48,613, the largest to pass through Yankee Stadium's gates this year, serenaded Jeter with a deafening roar as the captain embraced his family members, former teammates and others before taking a slow walk to his shortstop position.

He crouched on the grass, said a silent prayer and tried to absorb the moment. Jeter said that he wanted to take that snapshot with him; Thursday marked his last game playing shortstop, though he plans to bat this weekend as a designated hitter or pinch-hitter out of respect to the Red Sox and their fans.

"I wanted to take something special from Yankee Stadium," Jeter said. "And the view from shortstop here, tonight, is what I want to take from it."

The Yankees held a three-run lead heading into the ninth inning, but long home runs by Adam Jones and Steve Pearce off David Robertson shredded that, forcing the scramble to complete Jeter's home story.

"What can you say? It created another Derek Jeter moment," Robertson said. "As much as I wished I wouldn't have created it, I'm glad it happened."

Meek didn't exactly want to be part of that either, but he also recognized the magnitude of the moment.

"You just can't be upset about that kind of thing," Meek said. "It's bigger than all of us."

Despite threatening forecasts, the weather never proved to be an issue on a crisp and clear evening. It felt and sounded a lot like like October in the Bronx, and not surprisingly, that was an atmosphere in which Jeter seemed right at home.

Perhaps fueled by the positive energy from the crowd, Jeter's bat sprang to life on a last homestand in which he batted .353, including a first-inning blast off Kevin Gausman that pelted the left-field wall. Jeter advanced on a wild pitch, then tied the game on a fielding error.

In the seventh, Jeter strode to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Ryan Webb entered and induced Jeter to ground to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who threw wildly to second base as Ichiro Suzuki and Pirela scored. It wasn't pretty, but the Yankees had a lead.

"Broken-bat, I got a run in, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "But I've done that time and time again. We had the lead. I was happy if we won the game right there."

The top of the eighth produced another chant from the bleachers: this one, 'Thank you, Jeter," which was acknowledged with a wave of the shortstop's glove. The cheering quickly spread, Jeter's eyes moistening while fielding his position.

"I was almost thinking to myself, 'Joe, get me out of here before I do something to cost us this game,'" Jeter said. "It's funny how things change, I guess."

Even before Robertson's missteps, not everything went Jeter's way. The Bleacher Creatures had just landed upon his name in their 'roll call' when Nick Markakis launched a Hiroki Kuroda sinker into the second deck, providing an unwanted souvenir that was swiftly returned to the playing field.

Alejandro De Aza followed with another homer off Kuroda, who quickly settled in and held the Orioles to three hits in a nine-strikeout performance. It also may have been his final outing; Kuroda has not tipped his plans for 2015, but he has pondered retirement in the past.

"I always tell myself that any outing can be my last outing," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "Today was my last outing of the season, so I was thinking about that."

Jeter committed a second-inning throwing error on a slow Kelly Johnson grounder, but Kuroda pitched around that. He atoned with defensive sparkle in the fourth, ranging to his left to flag a Jones grounder that was scored as an inning-ending double play after review.

Only the out-of-town scoreboard argued with the festive nature of the evening. With the Yankees having been officially eliminated from contention on Wednesday, this marked only the second time in Jeter's 2,745 career games that he has taken the field with his club mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

"He played the game because he wanted to win and he loved it," Girardi said. "But he affected a lot of people's lives."

From the February morning that Jeter clicked the "Post" button on his Facebook announcement, having spent the previous evening personally crafting his words, there have been chapters of this final season that Jeter wished would have gone differently.

He detested the term "farewell tour," believing that it implied that his appearances were more important than the idea of winning games, and Jeter's eyes flashed their usual pain when it became clear that another trip to the postseason was not in the cards.

But when Jeter zips his equipment bag in three days, he will carry with him the residue of a season-long outpouring of affection. Nowhere was that love more concentrated than here at home, on this perfectly scripted and ultimately fitting evening in the Bronx.

"I'm thinking to myself, 'What are you thanking me for? I was just trying to do my job,'" Jeter said. "Really, they're the ones I want to thank. They're the ones that have made this special."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Final home game is Jeter's last at shortstop

Final home game is Jeter's last at shortstop

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter wanted to leave something special about his final game at Yankee Stadium, so even though he decided he will play at some point in Boston this weekend, Thursday was his final game at shortstop.

"Out of respect for the Red Sox, their fans and the rivalry, I'm going to DH," Jeter said after driving in the game-winning run in the Yankees' 6-5 victory over the Orioles.

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"I don't know about tomorrow. I'm not sure. I will play, but I hope that people can respect my decision on that. I've only played shortstop for my entire career, and the last time I want to play it is tonight."

Manager Joe Girardi said that he would allow Jeter to make the decision on how much he wants to play once the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason. Girardi, like many people around the Yankees, assumed Jeter would certainly decide to play every game he can.

Girardi, however, knew how quickly a player's mind could change. He was certain that Mariano Rivera would decide to play center field at some point during his final three games in Houston last season, but after the way Rivera's final game at Yankee Stadium ended, the closer wanted that to be the final image of his career.

Jeter has been asked the question about playing the final three games in Boston several times during the last month, which he always side-stepped with an answer questioning why he would not. But when the Yankees were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday, things changed, and he started responding that he would make that decision when those games in Boston drew nearer.

The 40-year-old decided prior to Thursday's game that it would be his last playing the position he grew up wanting to play since he was 4 or 5 years old. After Jeter drove home the game-winning run, Jeter ran back out onto the field and kneeled, taking it all in from short for one last time in his career while being showered with adoration.

"It was above and beyond anything I'd ever dreamt of," Jeter said. "I mean, I don't even know what to say. I've lived a dream. This is, since I was 4 or 5 years old, and part of that dream is over now."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

There will never be another Derek Jeter

There will never be another Derek Jeter

It was supposed to rain like crazy in the Bronx Thursday night. Meteorologists suggested Yankee Stadium would become a soggy mess. But it never happened. Of course, it didn't. That New York borough had the extraordinary powers of Derek Sanderson Jeter, who could make even the sun and the moon obey, especially when he wore pinstripes.

I'm already speaking of Jeter's baseball life in the past tense. Yes, he still has games to play in Boston. But you know what? Fughedaboutit. For Jeter, Thursday night inside an absolutely dry ballpark near the Harlem River was the finale to his 20th and last Major League season. Those years were all with the Yankees, all productive, all dramatic enough to leave us with thoughts for future baseball generations: Now what, and who?

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The answer: Nobody.

Nobody ever will do what Jeter just did, and I'm not only talking about his game-winning single Thursday night. With much of the world watching his every breath -- along with a who's who collection stuffed inside of Yankee Stadium -- this was his farewell to the hometown fans as a player.

Actually, let's continue right there, because what Jeter did in that Orioles game leads us to one of the biggest reasons few -- OK, nobody -- will follow in his cleat steps. He lived for moments, and then he owned them.

His moment Thursday night was different, though. He was battling the Orioles and himself, and the latter was the tougher foe.

"It was the first time in my career I told myself, 'Please, don't hit it to me,'" he said, describing his emotions at shortstop, where he fought back tears.

Even so, he gathered himself enough to double home a run in his first at-bat. Then he collected two more RBIs after that, including one that helped solidify his legend.

This was vintage Jeter, the Yankees' captain who rarely encountered one of those moments in which he didn't apply pixie dust to his bat, his glove, his arm or his legs. There was his "flip play" out of nowhere against the A's during the 2001 playoffs. He blasted that game-winning home run during the post-9/11 World Series to become Mr. November. Speaking of homers, he wasn't a power hitter, but he nevertheless has 260 of them entering the season's final weekend. For one of them, he ripped his 3,000th hit, and he did so against David Price, a perennial All-Star pitcher. Then there was his last trip to the All-Star Game, where he promptly delivered a double to right in his first at-bat.

Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton -- They've all had their moments. They all come to mind regarding candidates who could prosper in Jeter-type situations on a consistent basis. It's just that Trout, McCutchen and Stanton would have to encounter and conquer those moments for a couple of decades. You know, just like Jeter.

Good luck with that. The same goes for anybody seeking to become the next bigger-than-life player without even the hint of scandal. This was as impressive as Jeter's ability to shock opponents in the clutch. Here was this highly sought-after bachelor who was the most visible athlete on the most famous professional sports team in history, and he was playing in New York City, which we are told through song is a place that never sleeps.

That normally equals trouble.

Not for Jeter. In addition, he spent the bulk of his career playing for the famously demanding George Steinbrenner, who had issues with just about every gigantic personality in his clubhouse. Jeter was a glaring exception. Even after the tabloids said they were feuding deep in the shadows, they did a national commercial together to spoof the situation.

Here's the other thing: In addition to referring to The Boss as "Mr. Steinbrenner," Jeter called Yankees manager Joe Torre "Mr. Torre." I mean, what other superstar of Jeter's caliber respected his elders that way from the beginning to the end of their careers, and who will do so in the future?

Some may be as polite as Jeter, and others might follow one of his greatest attributes by perfecting the lost art of always looking folks in the eyes while answering their questions.

But this is for sure: Several things are going the way of Babe Ruth's old flannel uniforms after Jeter leaves the Yankees dugout for the last time in Boston. His No. 2 will be the last of the single-digit numbers worn by anybody for the Yankees. He also will be the final player to exit from the franchise's dynasty that produced the likes of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Robinson Cano and others along the way to five World Series since 1996.

Finally, you had the recorded words of the late Bob Sheppard over the public address system. Whenever Jeter strolled to home plate, it was Sheppard's distinguished voice saying: "Now batting for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter, number two."

No more. Nobody ever will have anything close to such an introduction as long as baseballs are round. That was purely Jeter, along everything else I didn't have time to mention.

No wonder Jeter almost cried Thursday night.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Core Four helps celebrate Jeter's storybook night

Posada, Pettitte, Rivera take field after Captain's walk-off single

Core Four helps celebrate Jeter's storybook night

When Derek Jeter stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth Thursday night, the potential winning run standing on second base in his final game at Yankee Stadium, he was only thinking one thinking: Don't cry.

At least, that's what he told the sold-out crowd in the Bronx minutes after he grounded the game-winning single to right field, giving the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Orioles.

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That's how the game ended, but the ensuing celebrations were just getting going. Seconds after Antoan Richardson came around from second, teammates past and present made their way toward Jeter on the field to offer their congratulations -- high-fives, hugs, brief words. Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were among those waiting until Jeter emerged from the initial celebratory mob customary of walk-off endings. So were his family and his former manager, Joe Torre.

"This was a lot of fun," Jeter said on the YES Network before a chant of "Thank you, Jeter" from a chorus of 48,613 strong made him shift gears. "No, thank you."

Derek Jeter
Jeter says goodbye to the Bronx
Complete coverage
Captain Clutch! Jeter hits walk-off in NYC exit
Jeter rewrites Girardi's script for sendoff
Core Four helps celebrate Jeter's storybook night
10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his dominance
MLB players react to Jeter's walk-off single
 
Multimedia
Jeter's walk-off hit
Jeter's emotional farewell
Jeter's postgame remarks
Jeter receives final roll call
More Jeter videos
Photo gallery

Jeter made his usual stops in that interview, thanking the fans and, ever the politician, wishing Baltimore luck in the postseason. The Orioles heard him. They were all on the top step of the visitors' dugout.

"That's a typical Derek Jeter night," Rivera said on YES. "You figure it out. David Robertson had done a tremendous job the whole year. On Derek Jeter night, he blows the game to set it up for Derek.

"No, I'm playing around. Those things don't surprise me. The way it happens, the way it's set up for him to be able to come through with the last hit and win the game. I've seen it over and over."

Jeter answered the question everyone has been wondering -- will he play in Boston this weekend? -- though not definitively.

"I'll play in some capacity," Jeter said on MLB Network. "Quite honestly, this is probably my last game at shortstop.

"I want to remember that view right there," Jeter continued, pointing to his home the last two decades between second and third base on the Yankee Stadium infield. "Out of respect to Boston fans and the rivalry, I will play at some capacity."

Then he made his way around the infield, tipping his cap and trying to take it all in every bit as much as the fans. He eventually found the home dugout again, and before heading down the steps and into the Yankees clubhouse, hugged Torre one last time.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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