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Jeter on Thursday: 'I feel like I haven't played in a couple of years'

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Derek Jeter played the first game of his final season on Thursday.
Derek Jeter played the first game of his final season on Thursday. (USATSI)

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After missing most of 2013 with a series of leg problems, Derek Jeter played in his first Grapefruit League game of 2014 on Thursday. He went 0 for 2 with two groundouts at the plate and played five innings at shortstop, though he did not have to make any defensive plays aside from applying a tag on stolen base attempt at second base.

Jeter, 39, was limited to only 17 games last year because of a twice-fractured ankle and various leg problems. He ran down the line well on Thursday and afterwards he told Chad Jennings of the Journal News that it was good to get this first spring training game out of the way.

"I feel like I haven't played a game in a couple of years," Jeter said. "That's what it felt like, even though I played a couple last year. I think just getting out there (felt good). I don't know if there's one thing in particular, but just getting into a game, feeling good, that's what I was most excited about."

...

"I've (run) already," Jeter said. "I've run a lot. You guys may have not seen it, but I've run a lot. It's always good to do stuff in game action. I wasn't out there for such a long time, so it's good to get back in game action. But I'm not concerned about running. That doesn't cross my mind."

A few weeks ago, Jeter announced that he will retire following the season, so this is his final spring training. He hit only .190 in those 17 games last season and the Yankees re-signed Brendan Ryan as shortstop insurance over the winter, but Jeter is being counted on to play the position every day in 2014.

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