Shortstop story: Bogaerts vs. Jeter


NEW YORK -- So, Derek Jeter is asked, what do you think of a Red Sox rookie, Xander Bogaerts, wearing your No. 2 in your honor?

"Yeah, I heard that," Jeter said. "Curious to see what Red Sox fans think about that."

He laughed.

His visitor was curious, now that Jeter has declared his intention to retire at the end of the season, about how Sox fans will react to his first visit to Boston, nine days from now.

"Don't know," he said, heading out of the Yankees' clubhouse. "I haven't looked that far ahead. We'll see."

Derek Jeter was 21 when he became the Yankees' every-day shortstop in 1996. The Yankees' catcher on Opening Day that year was Joe Girardi, now the team's manager.

At 21, Xander Bogaerts is the youngest Opening Day shortstop the Red Sox have had in 100 years. He was still four months away from being born when Jeter signed his first professional contract with the Yankees in 1992. Bogaerts turned 21 on Oct. 1, just days before playing in his first World Series. He was a year younger than Jeter was in his first Series.

The players, separated by nearly two decades, are very similar in build. Jeter is listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. Bogaerts is 6-3 and listed at 185 but looks bigger. (Bogaerts says he's 6-2, 205.)

"Growing up, he was my favorite player," said Bogaerts. "I mean, he's just a good person, on and off the field. He came up big-time in big situations for the Yankees, all those World Series.

"What do I appreciate about him most? Everything. He's never been in trouble for anything, just a clean man. You don't hear too much about him off the field."

No, Bogaerts said, he hasn't sought out Jeter to talk and was unsure whether he'd do so here, as the Sox and Yankees wind up their four-game series Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "But as of now, no."

Jeter, a New Yorker seemingly for life but originally a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., is asked whether young players seem timid about approaching him.

"Timid?" he repeated.

Like Bogaerts, for example, who sounded hesitant about approaching his idol.

"I've talked to him," Jeter said. "I mean, briefly. Can't have an extended conversation, we're in the middle of a game, but I've talked to him."

He knows Bogaerts more by reputation as a top prospect than from what he has actually witnessed.

"I've heard that," Jeter said about the high expectations Bogaerts carries, "but I've not seen him play much. I wasn't here most of last year, so I saw him just a couple of times. You hear things, but I haven't really seen him."

This is Bogaerts' second visit to Yankee Stadium. His first came on Sept. 7, when he played shortstop in a Saturday afternoon game. Jeter was playing shortstop for the Yankees.

"He hit his first homer," said Mike Napoli, who was sitting alongside Bogaerts, chatting with a visitor. "A bomb over the bullpen."

"I got it good," Bogaerts said. "It's my only one."

"Your only one?" Napoli said, surprised.

"So far, yeah."

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