TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Yankees captain Derek Jeter says offseason moves have made the American League stronger and new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine will make Boston even more exciting.
The Los Angeles Angels added free-agent slugger Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson, while Detroit signed power-hitting Prince Fielder, the son of former Tigers’ star Cecil Fielder.
“It’s scary for the whole American League, especially for the West and Central,” Jeter said on Monday. “Our league has always been tough, but I’m pretty sure they’re excited over in Anaheim to have Albert, C.J. I think it’s kind of cool that Prince is in Detroit because everyone remembers him with his dad, following his dad around. It made two great teams even better.”
The Red Sox replaced Terry Francona with Valentine, a one-time New York Mets manager, after an epic late-season slide last year kept Boston out of the playoffs.
“He’s going to bring some excitement,” Jeter said. “He brought some excitement when he was with the Mets. But there’s always excitement in Boston. I guess he’ll add to it.”
Jeter took batting practice on the field for the first time Monday at the Yankees’ minor league complex, where he has been working out since mid-January.
“You still have to enjoy playing,” said Jeter, who will turn 38 on June 26. “If I wasn’t excited about it, I wouldn’t play. I think that’s the only way you can play well, and I think it’s only way you can play especially in New York, with all the other things that are going on.”
This year marks the 20th spring training in the Yankees’ organization for Jeter, who was taken sixth overall in the 1992 amateur draft.
“Does it feel like it? No, it’s gone pretty quickly,” Jeter said. “In my mind, I’m still, I wouldn’t say 18, somewhere in-between those 20 years.”
And what does the shortstop recall about the early days of his pro career?
“I was scared to death,” Jeter said. “I was completely overmatched in terms of ability and playing out here. It was an uncomfortable beginning. I grew up in a small town, so the competition was OK, but it wasn’t like the level of competition of a lot of guys.”
Notes: A fit-looking Phil Hughes, competing for a starting role, threw off the mound for the third time in Florida. The right-hander worked out extensively in California during the winter. “Last year was kind of a roller-coaster with shoulder stuff going on, then the lower back at the end of the year,” Hughes said. “It was a difficult year for me, and I just wanted to make sure this year there’s no excuses. I have to prove I deserve a spot.”
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