Derek Jeter finally commented on his contentious off-season contract negotiations today and said he was "angry" but wouldn't specify who he was angry at. The New York Yankee held a press conference announcing his re-signing with the only team he has ever played for at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa--70 miles from the Winter Meetings in Orlando. The mountain goes to Jeter.
The five minute announcement was broadcast live on ESPN and the MLB Network this afternoon.
The conference room was filled with reporters who car-pooled from the Winter Meetings to hear Jeter--who cleared his throat often and looked a little uncomfortable at times--answer questions which have swirled around his drawn out off-season contract talks.
He started the press conference by smiling and saying, "I've never had one of these before." He thanked the Steinbrenner family and claimed he, "Never thought he wouldn't be a Yankee again."
While much was made by the New York press about Cashman telling Jeter to "test the free-agent waters" over the past couple of weeks, Jeter said he never had any discussions with other teams. He talked about having his face Photoshopped onto New York Mets and Boston Red Sox uniforms by joking "about being Photoshopped in worse ways."
Jeter got serious when asked why he never discussed the rumors which leaked out during the negotiations. "I never spoke on this situation," he said. "That bothered me the most," he continued, " The negotiations are supposed to be private." He never mentioned how much his agent, Casey Close, originally asked for and if the rumored amounts were true.
"I wasn't negotiating with anyone else," Jeter stressed. He said he was resentful of the whole process and how he was portrayed as "greedy" and full of "arrogance." "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't angry," the stern-faced Yankee said.
The future Hall-of Famer didn't take any shots at who his was anger was directed at. There could be the usual suspects in the Yankee front office--Cashman, Hal or Hank Steinbrenner--who Jeter could lash out at, but he took the high road--even after getting the rumored demands sliced in half. Leaking information could have been a bargaining tool to make Jeter look like the bad guy and, for a while, Yankee fans were divided on that front.
The brief conference ended with the 36 year-old Jeter saying he is ready and able to play a few more years and all the chatter of him being too old doesn't bother him. He drew the conversation away from his own abilities by saying, "I just want to prove we're the best team in baseball." True Derek Jeter.