NEW YORK — To Derek Jeter, it was just another day to get ready for spring training.
On a minor-league field at the New York Yankees’ complex in Florida, he took batting practice, fielded grounders and chatted with teammates. And then he drove away in his Mercedes, offering no hint that the countdown to his retirement had already begun.
Hours later, Jeter alerted the sports world: This will be his final season.
“I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball,” Jeter posted Wednesday in a long letter on his Facebook page.
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“I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets,” the shortstop wrote.
While it was no secret the team captain was getting close to the end of his brilliant career as he neared 40 — especially after injuries wrecked him last season — Jeter’s announcement caught many by surprise. But it was quickly confirmed that one of the greatest players in the history of baseball’s most storied franchise was serious.
A 13-time All-Star shortstop who led the Yankees to five World Series championships, Jeter was the last link to the powerful Yankees teams that won three straight crowns from 1998 to 2000. Longtime teammates Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retired after last year.
Jeter was limited to 17 games last season while trying to recover from a broken left ankle.
Jeter is the Yankees’ career hits leader with 3,316. He’s ninth on the all-time list; a 200-hit season would put him in fifth place. Jeter is a lifetime .312 hitter in 19 seasons, with 256 home runs and 1,261 runs batted in. He has scored 1,876 runs, stolen 348 bases and is a five-time Gold Glove winner.
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