Senior Major League Baseball scouts believe that Derek Jeter may be a shadow of his former self going into his final season, reports CBS Sports.
Jeter has completed a full spring training with the Yankees after missing the majority of 2013 with a broken ankle, which was just one of several serious injuries to keep Jeter out of the game this decade.
Jeter confirmed that he would retire at the end of the 2014 season with many Yankees fans dreaming an epic World Series finish for their captain. But the word on the street is that Jeter is not looking the man he once was and the stats confirm this.
A .128 batting average in spring games gives the New York Yankees cause for concern regardless of whether a veteran's pre-season form is a legitimate indication of what is to come.
“He looks old and frail,” one AL scout told CBS Sports. “He looks like he lost 10 to 15 pounds rehabbing his ankle and the biggest difference is in his strength. He always had the strength to muscle that pitch on the inner half to right field for a base hit. (I) don't see it anymore.
“Those infield hits are going to be limited now because he is a tick below average runner with a [bad] ankle.
"He always figures out a way defensively, but you have to hit to be a regular. If anyone can prove me wrong it's Jeter. But the Yankees are going to have to make some really tough decisions if he doesn't start off well offensively.”
Of course Jeter embodies defiance, frequently upsetting the odds to return to the top of baseball. Whether or not scouts believe he is finished, Jeter will be fully focused on succeeding with the Yankees in 2014.
“I feel good,” Jeter told reporters earlier this week. “It takes a little while. When you miss time it takes awhile to get back. I've got one week left. I'm in a good spot.”
Jeter's batting average won't concern the Yankees beyond face value, however. After not playing for two years it is natural that a 39-year-old will have some rust to shake off when he steps up to the plate.