Sunday, April 16, 2006



April 16, 2006 -- The Post's Steve Serby sat down with the Yankees captain this past week at the Stadium:

Q: What are the odds you'll be married before you retire?

A: Probably good.

Q: Why?

A: (Smiles) 'Cause I hope to play a long time.

Q: What if you fell in love with a Red Sox fan - could you marry her?

A: (Laughs) I don't think it'd be a question of, "Could I?" It'd be a question of, "Could she?"

Q: But you could?

A: I could probably convert her. But I don't know if her family (chuckles) would allow such a thing.

Q: If you were Commissioner and Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's record, what would you do?

A: Celebrate it.

Q: Why?

A: Why not? Everything's speculation. I get tired of hearing about it because every day someone else has a new book, and someone else is saying this, saying that. It's all speculation. You can't prove a thing.

Q: You're 31. How much longer do you want to play?

A: As long as I'm having fun. Once this becomes a job where you don't want to come anymore, I couldn't do it.

Q: Could you see yourself as a manager, coach or broadcaster?

A: Nope.

Q: What do you see yourself doing?

A: I would love to own a team. I'd love to be able to call the shots.

Q: How will working for The Boss help you when you own a team?

A: (Smiles). The thing people fail to realize about The Boss ... everyone says how tough he is, but if you play for him, he's loyal. That's why you always have all these ex-players (at spring training). He takes care of you. Being a Yankee means a lot to him, and once you are a Yankee, he wants you to be a Yankee forever.

Q: What about the way he goes about his business will help you?

A: He's loyal, strict, expects perfection. That's the biggest thing.

Q: Would you be that kind of owner?

A: I would expect perfection.

Q: You'll be The Boss II, then?

A: I wouldn't necessarily be The Boss II (smiles). There's only one Boss.

Q: The key to performing in the clutch?

A: Staying calm. A lot of times the game speeds up when you get in big situations. You have to do everything in your control to slow it down.

Q: What's it like being hated on the road?

A: I enjoy it. It makes it fun to play. It's fun to get booed. I look at it as a challenge.

Q: Key to playing and succeeding in New York?

A: People don't want to hear excuses. If you play well, you played well; if you play poorly, then stand in front of your locker and say you played poorly.

Q: You've been called the modern-day DiMaggio.

A: No, no, no, no. It's a compliment, but I can't compare myself to DiMaggio. He's idolized by me, so I don't ever view myself as being that.

Q: Your fantasy in a different sport?

A: I would love to be Jordan for a day, when he was playing, just to see what it would be like.

Q: When would you rather be someone other than you?

A: Walking around sometimes, I would love to just be able to watch people, see how they act.
Sometimes I would love to be invisible.

Q: Who's the Yankees' best dresser?

A: Mo (Rivera) dresses pretty good.

Q: One Damon story.

A: We're in the WBC. He had like six at-bats. I think he might have broken eight bats in those six at-bats. So Chipper Jones kept laughing at him. And then we went to Orlando to play Atlanta in spring training. (Damon) had three at-bats and he broke three more bats.

Q: Your offseason training regimen this year?

A: A lot more agility and running. When you get older, you gotta pay attention to that. When you're young, you can get away with just going out there and playing. But as you get older, you have to make sure your legs are in shape and you're not losing any lateral movement.

Q: You look bigger up top.

A: I'm pretty much the same. Usually come to spring training about 200, 205. By the end of the year, 190.

Q: Has your diet stayed the same?

A: I eat a lot better now.

Q: What do you avoid?

A: Fried foods, heavy foods, fast food.

Q: That's why you have a cook?

A: I can't eat like I used to.

Q: Favorite current football player?

A: The Manning brothers. Peyton's already established. Eli's gonna be great. And Tom Brady.

Q: How did you get to know the Mannings?

A: Peyton, I got to know through Gatorade. Eli, I got to know through Peyton when he came down for my golf tournament.

Q: Matt Leinart or Vince Young?

A: Vince Young. He beats you with his legs, he beats you with his arm.

Q: If Joe Torre weren't a manager, what would he have been?

A: Mayor.

Q: Any political ambitions for you?

A: No (smiles). They might do a background check.

Q: Toughest competitor you've played against?

A: Can I do 'with'?

Q: Sure.

A: Mariano.

Q: Favorite current basketball player?

A: Dwyane Wade.

Q: Did you ever play hooky in school?

A: Never. I went to school on Senior Skip Day.

Q: That's pathetic.

A: Isn't it?

Q: Best book you've read in the last year?

A: Just read "Alchemist."

Q: Funniest moment on the mound?

A: Remember when (Luis) Sojo tripped on his own shoelaces in the playoffs? In Oakland? He got the groundball? It was Game 5, elimination game. It was like the sixth inning. So we go to the mound and (Andy) Pettitte says, "No, this is not happening! Not to me! Not now!" That was the funniest thing I ever heard (laughs).

Q: Why are you so driven to succeed?

A: You want to be the best you can be, individually and as a team. Second place has never really settled in with me.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Big Apple: Jeter's homer lifts Yankees

Big Apple: Jeter's homer lifts Yankees

04/11/2006 6:59 PM ET

By Mark Feinsand / MLB.comNEW YORK -- On Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, there was no more fitting ending.

The Yankees struggled through the first seven innings, blowing a three-run lead against the Royals in what looked to be another brutal loss for New York.

Enter Derek Jeter.

The Yankees captain made sure the sellout crowd of 54,698 went home happy, belting a game-winning three-run home run in the eighth, lifting the Yankees to a 9-7 win.

"He's always had a flair for the dramatic," said Bernie Williams, whose RBI single in the eighth helped keep the Yankees rally going. "A day like this, it's just the way he is. It doesn't surprise me."

"I've been watching this kid for 11 years," said manager Joe Torre. "It seems when something needs to happen, he's at the start of it or the finish of it. He's been as consistent as anybody."
Jason Giambi also contributed a three-run homer, as the Yankees pulled to within one game of .500 at 3-4.

"It seems like the season hasn't officially started until we play our home opener," Jeter said. "Any time you have a chance to do something special, it means a lot -- especially on Opening Day."

Giambi gave the Yankees a quick lead with his first-inning blast off Joe Mays, his first of the season, and the Yankees took a 4-1 lead into the fourth.

Chien-Ming Wang, who got eight of his nine outs in the first three innings on ground balls, lost his effectiveness in the fourth, allowing four hits (including Reggie Sanders' solo homer) and a walk, as the Royals tied the game at 4.

Wang tossed a scoreless fifth, but a walk and two singles in the sixth put the Royals ahead, 5-4. In six innings, Wang allowed five runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out one.

"He was getting ground ball after ground ball, then he elevated a couple of pitches and they let him know about it," Torre said. "I thought he threw the ball good when he had the location he needed."

Kansas City promptly extended the lead against Tanyon Sturtze in the seventh, as Shane Costa belted a solo shot on Sturtze's first pitch. Mark Grudzielanek doubled, scoring on Sanders' RBI single, boosting the lead to 7-4.

Andrew Sisco opened the bottom of the eighth on the mound for the Royals, but instead of attacking, the Yankees remained patient. Giambi worked a leadoff walk, Hideki Matsui singled and Jorge Posada walked, loading the bases.

Robinson Cano hit into a fielder's choice, forcing Giambi home to cut the lead to two runs. Bernie Williams, who had run the Yankees out of a potential rally in the fourth on what he called a "brain cramp," got some redemption with an RBI single, slicing the deficit to one run.

That set the stage for Johnny Damon, playing his first game in the Bronx as a member of the Yankees. Kansas City brought in closer Ambiorix Burgos, who struck Damon out on three pitches for the second out.

"I had a real good feeling about Johnny slapping a double into the gap or something," said Alex Rodriguez. "What makes our lineup tough is that if it's not one guy, it can be another."
In this case, it was Jeter's turn to give his team a lift. The captain pounced on a first-pitch splitter that stayed up in the zone, drilling it into the left-field seats to give the Yankees a 9-7 lead.

"The captain bailed us out," Williams said. "He knows how to perform in situations like this. I would have been surprised if he didn't do anything."

"Derek Jeter picked up the whole team with one swing of the bat," Damon said. "It's definitely going to be much easier for me to sleep."

Scott Proctor (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and earned the victory. Mariano Rivera tossed a scoreless ninth to pick up his first save of the season.

The win marks the ninth consecutive victory in a home opener by the Yankees, snapping a tie with the 1920-27 team for the longest such streak in franchise history.

"It's fun to win one like this at Yankee Stadium any time," Torre said. "But Opening Day made it special."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Captain Clutch



April 12, 2006 -- One, two, three - exhale.

That's what the Yankees did yesterday when Derek Jeter's three-run homer in the eighth climbed toward the blue sky on its way to the left-field seats.

On a wonderful afternoon for the home opener at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees flushed an early three-run lead, Chien-Ming Wang pitched poorly, Tanyon Sturtze didn't provide relief, and Bernie Williams committed a costly baserunning blunder.

Yet the schedule-maker put the Royals in the third-base dugout, and that, combined with Jeter's latest clutch hit, was the difference in a 9-7 Yankees victory that was witnessed by 54,698.

"We had a feeling something big would happen," said Jason Giambi, whose 3-2 walk started the five-run eighth. "[Jeter] was the right guy in the spot. He is unbelievable."

By now, nobody should be surprised when Jeter delivers. Nor should anybody believe it's sheer talent that enables Jeter to come through in the clutch.

Standing in the on-deck circle, Jeter watched gas-throwing Ambiorix Burgos strike out Johnny Damon on what Jeter said he believed to be three different pitches. According to Damon, it was two fastballs with different movement and a splitter.

"I thought he would try and get ahead with a fastball and he left it up," Jeter said of a split-fingered heater that he swatted for his second homer to give the Yankees their second straight victory and move them to 3-4. "He is not a guy you want to fall behind; he throws 97-98 mph."
The only thing left was for Mariano Rivera to work the ninth with a two-run lead. Rivera allowed two baserunners but ended it by snagging Doug Mientkiewicz's soft liner.

Trailing 7-4 going into the eighth because Wang gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings and Sturtze surrendered two runs and three hits in one-third of an inning, the Yankees rallied against 6-foot-10 lefty Andrew Sisco.

Giambi drew a 3-2 walk, and Hideki Matsui followed with a single to right. Jorge Posada walked to load the bases in front of Robinson Cano's grounder to third that forced Posada at second and scored Giambi. Bernie Williams, who fell asleep on the bases in the fourth to kill a strong scoring threat, plated Matsui with a single to make it 7-6.

Right-handed Burgos then blew away Damon, who went 1-for-3 and scored twice in his Yankees home debut, on three pitches for the second out. One pitch later, Jeter registered his latest "Big Yankee Moment."

"He isn't happy with his swing, but when something needs to get done he is at the start or end of it," Joe Torre said of his captain. "When he goes to the plate, he isn't affected by the situation."
Giambi's three-run homer off Joe Mays in the first staked Wang to a 3-0 lead, and through three frames it appeared Wang would have enough for a win. Eight of the nine outs came on ground balls as the Royals pounded Wang's signature sinker into the turf. The other out was a strikeout.

Wang, however, couldn't keep the ball down in the fourth, when Reggie Sanders homered and the Royals scored thee runs to tie the score, 4-4. A perfect fifth was followed by the sixth in which Wang loaded the bases without an out on a walk and two singles. He escaped giving up one run but was done for the day.

In the seventh, Sturtze gave up a leadoff homer to Shane Costa and an RBI single to Sanders and was replaced by Mike Myers.

Scott Proctor pitched a scoreless eighth to get the win.

"I thought we had great at-bats in the [eighth]," Torre said. "I thought all day long we had great at-bats."

None were shorter than Jeter's - or better.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Posada homers twice as Yanks batter Angels

April 9, 2006

Posada homers twice as Yanks batter Angels (linkstory)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The New York Yankees started their season-opening trip by beating up Barry Zito. They ended it by doing the same to Bartolo Colon.

In between, they lost four straight. But they headed home Sunday having regained their offense in a 10-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Jorge Posada homered twice and had five RBI and Alex Rodriguez added a solo shot to avert a sweep by the Angels.

"They stopped thinking and just went out there and reacted," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "With the ability we have, it's just a matter of when it's going to happen. It's just been a strange road trip."

New York avoided starting the season 1-5 for the first time since 1989, but still lost two of three in Oakland and two of three in Anaheim heading into Tuesday's home opener against Kansas City.

"It was big to win this last game of this trip and go home with a little bit of momentum," Mike Mussina said. "You're not going to get that many runs off of Colon very often. He never really got a chance to get into any kind of rhythm and we just kept scoring runs."
The Yankees skipped batting practice, giving them extra time in the clubhouse, where the pregame mood was "goofy," according to Torre.

"We were playing around and making fun of people, trying to keep it loose and simple," Posada said.

Mussina (1-0) was as dominant as Colon was awful. The right-hander retired six of the first seven batters he faced en route to allowing one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked two.

"He keeps getting finer and finer with his stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Although he's not throwing as hard as he once did, he's still adept at hitting spots, changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance. He just knows how to pitch, knows what he wants to do, and he's very good at it."

An offense that had stagnated since New York's 15-2 victory over the Athletics last Monday broke out against Colon (0-1).

"I'm the one that woke them up a little bit by making the pitches that I made," Colon said. "But I look forward to seeing them again, definitely. They're a good team and I like to compete against them."

The right-hander retired the side in the first before being hit hard in the second and third. Colon gave up eight runs -- seven earned -- on seven hits in two-plus innings, struck out one and walked two.

"I have only two starts down, which have been really bad, but I look forward to the next 30-plus starts that I know are going to be better," he said.

Rodriguez started the onslaught with a leadoff homer on the second pitch from Colon. Jason Giambi singled, Hideki Matsui reached on Colon's fielding error and then Posada sent a 1-2 pitch into the right field seats, extending New York's lead to 4-0.

"We've been swinging the bats progressively better the last three days," Rodriguez said. "We have to work on being more consistent."

Derek Jeter's RBI double landed inches inside the right-field line, scoring the fifth run of the inning, when the Yankees batted around. Rodriguez's grounder to short briefly ended the scoring spree.

New York jumped on Colon again to start the third. He walked Giambi and Matsui singled to set up Posada's run-scoring double that made it 6-0 and finished off Colon.

"Right now he's losing a little bit of his command and he's just overthrowing a bit," Scioscia said. "But there's nothing we see that would lead us to have any concern with Bart."

Esteban Yan came on and promptly gave up a two-run double to Robinson Cano, the first batter he faced in the third.

The Angels got one run back in the third on an RBI single by Chone Figgins. They loaded the bases with two outs in the inning, but Mussina retired Tim Salmon on a towering fly to left.

Posada led off the fifth with his second homer, increasing the margin to 9-1. They added a run in the sixth on Matsui's two-out, RBI single.

Yankees closer Mariana Rivera made his season debut, giving up a single to Casey Kotchman in a scoreless ninth.

Game notesAngels RHP Kelvim Escobar, who cracked a fingernail Friday night, played catch Sunday with no pain and said he's 50-50 to make his next start. ... It was Posada's 12th career multihomer game and his first since last Sept. 22 against Baltimore. ... Rodriguez's 431st homer tied him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 37th on baseball's career list. It was his eighth career homer off Colon. ... The Yankees were 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position after going 0-for-8 during the first two games of the series. ... The series attracted a club record 132,285 fans, bettering the old mark of 132,192 against the Dodgers last June. ... Colon has struggled out of the gate. As the opening day starter, he gave up three runs that tied the game in a no-decision at Seattle last Monday. ... The UCLA men's basketball team attended the game, playing catch on the field and autographing baseballs tossed to them by fans. The Bruins sang an off-key version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Glove Song

GLOVE SONG (story link)


April 7, 2006 -- ANAHEIM - Derek Jeter doesn't want to hear about the bulging biceps that pop out of Yankees pinstripes.

The captain wants all the chatter about scoring 1,000 runs to stop.
Instead, Jeter would like to remind everyone that posting slow-pitch softball numbers isn't the recipe for success.

"Everyone talks about offense, but it doesn't win games," Jeter said late Wednesday night after the Yankees flushed a 4-0 lead thanks to leaky glove work by him and Robinson Cano helped the A's to a 9-4 victory. "Pitching and defense [wins]."

With the Yankees 1-2, George Steinbrenner has experienced an up-and-down beginning to the season. The Boss was overjoyed about the vote for a new Yankee Stadium going his way but unhappy over the way his club lost Wednesday. Steinbrenner refused to comment on the sloppiness through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein.

In three games, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang have pitched well enough to win. Yet only Johnson has a victory, and he was fortunate to work when the Yankees scored 15 runs Opening Day.

Jeter sabotaged Wang with a crucial error Wednesday night when the shortstop booted what should have been an inning-ending double play. Jeter misplayed Frank Thomas' grounder and opened the gates for the A's to score three runs in the fourth and cut the Yankees' lead to 4-3.

Playing on the infield grass with Milton Bradley at third, no outs in the eighth, and the score tied 4-4, Cano allowed Jay Payton's grounder to glance off his glove because he was peeking at Bradley, who scored and put the A's up a run. They added four more runs, the final three coming on Thomas' booming three-run double off Kyle Farnsworth.

Defense gets lost when the Yankees are discussed. Everybody is impressed with the bats, and rotation questions dominate the pitching department. Nobody dwells on the defense that was the difference between leaving Oakland 2-1 instead of 1-2 and on the two-game losing streak they bring into Angels Stadium tonight.

In three games, the Yankees have committed three errors, and Cano had an error reversed that led to a run Tuesday night in a 4-3 loss.

Because Johnson is their only true strikeout pitcher, it's imperative the Yankees catch the ball, especially with Wang on the mound. His best pitch is a sinking fastball that produces ground balls like the ones Thomas hit to Jeter and Payton hit to Cano.

So how are the Yankees defensively?

On the left side of the infield Jeter has won two straight Gold Gloves and Alex Rodriguez could add his first as a third baseman. If the Yankees have to worry about Jeter catching and throwing the ball, they are in huge trouble.

On the right side, second baseman Cano worked extensively with coach Larry Bowa on his fielding, is better going to his left, and has a strong arm. He has to concentrate on every pitch, something he didn't do as a rookie last season. Joe Torre has made defensive substitutions for Jason Giambi at first base the past two years but doesn't have Tino Martinez or Tony Clark on the bench this season. Giambi did, however, look good turning a 3-6-3 double play Wednesday.

The outfield of Hideki Matsui in left, Johnny Damon in center and Gary Sheffield in right is a tick above average, with Damon a better ball-tracker than Bernie Williams but not an improvement throwing.

As for booting heavy-legged Thomas' double play ball that turned Wednesday night's game around, Jeter said it was on him.

"I took my eye off it too soon," said Jeter, who committed 15 errors in 159 games last year. "I have to make that play. You have to play defense."

Especially with the pitchers the Yankees have in the rotation.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Errors cost Yankees in finale

Errors cost Yankees in finale (story link)

04/06/2006 3:15 AM ET

By Mark Feinsand /

OAKLAND -- Nobody is going to question the Yankees' offensive ability over the course of the 2006 season. Their defensive ability, however, may be an ongoing discussion.

New York made two costly errors on Wednesday night, the mistakes leading to five unearned runs in a 9-4 loss to the A's in the series finale at McAfee Coliseum.

"You certainly can't expect to win when you give them extra outs," said manager Joe Torre.

"Errors are part of the game, so you hope when you make errors that they don't come and bite you. Tonight, we didn't make them at a good time."

Robinson Cano's error in the eighth inning allowed Milton Bradley to score the game-winner, capping a night in which Bradley also drove in three runs for Oakland.

Derek Jeter misplayed a potential inning-ending double-play ball in the fourth, helping the A's start a three-run rally.

Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield each went deep for the Yankees, but Chien-Ming Wang was unable to protect an early four-run lead, allowing four runs -- two earned -- over 4 2/3 innings in his first start of the season.

"Everyone keeps talking about our offense, but that doesn't win games; pitching and defense does," Jeter said. "We're not always going to hit every game."

Matsui put the Yankees on the board in the second, crushing a solo home run, his second of the year, to center field against starter Dan Haren.

One inning later, Haren ran into more trouble, putting runners on the corners to start the inning after Cano doubled and Johnny Damon singled. Haren struck out Jeter, but Sheffield drilled a 2-2 pitch to left field, keeping it fair as he tucked it inside the foul pole for his first homer of 2005.

The homer was No. 450 for Sheffield, pushing him past Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell for 27th on the all-time list.

Wang posted zeros in each of the first three innings, but the young sinkerballer gave up three runs in the fourth. The inning could have been prevented had Jeter been able to field a one-out grounder hit by Thomas, as a double play would have ended the frame.

Instead, Wang walked Dan Johnson to load the bases, then Bradley lined a single to left field, plating a pair of runs. Jason Kendall's RBI fielder's choice cut the lead to 4-3.

"I have to make that play," Jeter said. "Wang was pitching well -- he was in a groove -- but after that mistake, it took him out of it. If I make that play, we're out of the inning. They really capitalized on it."

Oakland tied the game in the fifth, using two singles and two walks -- the last of which was a bases-loaded free pass to Bradley -- to knot the game at 4.

With the bases still juiced, Torre replaced Wang with Tanyon Sturtze, who got Jay Payton to pop out to Jason Giambi, stranding all three runners.

Jaret Wright made his season debut, coming out of the bullpen to start the sixth. It marked the first relief appearance for Wright since September 2003, but he had no trouble adapting to his new role, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced.

But Haren settled in after giving up Sheffield's blast in the third, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced. Haren left after six innings, charged with four runs.

"I give Haren a lot of credit," Torre said. "We scored four runs and he didn't rattle. He pretty much frustrated us."

Bradley continued to be a thorn in the Yankees' side, belting a triple just past Damon's outstretched arm in center to start the eighth.

"I couldn't get back fast enough," said Damon. "It just beat me. I couldn't get as high as I wanted to. I have to make that catch."

"It looked like he had a pretty good jump on the ball," Torre said. "It just kept going."

With the infield drawn in and the go-ahead run just 90 feet from home plate, Payton hit a hard grounder at Cano, who was in perfect position to field it. But the second baseman took a quick look to see if Bradley was running, taking his eye off the ball for a split-second. It was enough to cause him to mishandle the grounder, allowing Bradley to score on the error.

"I'm not perfect," Cano said. "It's something that's going to happen in the game. I don't want it to happen, but I'm human. I'm going to make mistakes. ... If I don't make that mistake, it's a different story."

The A's cemented the victory with four more runs in the inning against Wright (0-1) and Kyle Farnsworth, the big blow coming on Thomas' three-run double, which boosted the lead to five runs.

"Pitching wins, but you have to play defense behind that pitching," Jeter said. "Our pitching staff did a good job, but we made a couple of mistakes that cost us a few runs. You can't do that, especially against a team with a pitching staff like Oakland's."

"It's nothing we have to work on," Torre said. "This ballclub works hard; it's just something that happens. We just have to turn the page."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Major league millionaires

Updated: April 5, 2006, 12:26 PM ET

Major league millionaires (story link)

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The 2006 salaries for the 409 Major League Baseball players on Opening Day rosters and disabled lists earning $1 Million or more.

Figures were obtained by The Associated Press from management and player sources and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income. For some players, parts of salareis deferred without interest are discounted to reflect present-day values.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Report: Letter calls Jeter 'traitor to his race'

Updated: Sep. 27, 2005, 2:50 AM ET

Report: Letter calls Jeter 'traitor to his race' (story link)

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees star Derek Jeter received a threatening letter that reportedly warned he'd be "shot or set on fire" if he didn't stop dating white women.

The FBI is investigating "racially threatening letters to Jeter and others across the country," special agent Scott Wilson said Monday by phone from Cleveland. He declined to comment further.

Jeter downplayed what he called the "stupid letter," saying he did not perceive it as a specific threat. Jeter told ESPN that the letter was received back in April and called it no big deal.

The Daily News reported that the hate mail to the Yankees' 31-year-old captain called him a "traitor to his race" for dating white women. It warned him "to stop or he'll be shot or set on fire," the paper said in Monday editions, quoting an unidentified law enforcement source.

Similar threatening letters denouncing interracial relationships have been sent to other public figures in recent months, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Jason Taylor and the parents of tennis star James Blake. The threats have been traced to the Cleveland area.

Jeter, who was in Baltimore on Monday for a game against the Orioles, said he heard about the letter two or three months ago and did not feel threatened by it.

"It wasn't like, 'I'm going to do this to you. I'm going to do that to you,'" Jeter said. "It was just a stupid letter. I've gotten stupid letters before. That's basically it. Now, for some reason, it's on the front page and it's some big, huge story."

Jeter, picked by People magazine as one of the world's most eligible bachelors, has been linked with models, singers, actresses and athletes of various racial and ethnic backgrounds in New York's gossip columns. His mother is white, his father is black.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," Jeter said that he and his sister were taunted for being biracial while growing up in Michigan. But he said he has never heard any racial epithets from the fans at Yankee Stadium in his 11 seasons playing there.

The NYPD's hate crimes unit recently completed a four-month investigation into the Jeter letter, which police said was mailed to Yankee Stadium earlier this season. The probe's findings haven't been made public.

The mail, postmarked from cities in northeastern Ohio and Pennsylvania, criticized interracial relationships and directed the men to end such relationships "or they're going to be castrated, shot or set on fire."

St. Ignatius and St. Edward, two Roman Catholic high schools in Cleveland with well-known sports programs, received threatening letters addressed to student athletes last fall.