Jeter thinks Manny would fit with Yanks
Team captain impressed by signings of two top pitchers
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter can't claim to have a close personal relationship with Manny Ramirez, but if the Washington Heights, N.Y., product winds up back in New York, the Yankees captain believes he will fit in.
Jeter spoke on Monday in Central Park at a charity event for his Turn 2 Foundation, and though he does not believe it to be the Yankees' most pressing issue, Ramirez could help improve a lineup that ranked 10th in the Major Leagues in run production.
"I don't know him personally, with the exception of playing against him and on some All-Star teams," Jeter said. "I know he's had a lot of success everywhere he's gone, and it seems his teams have done been pretty good.
"Not too many people have problems fitting in, I don't think."
Jeter said he makes it a point not to comment on rumors, and as far as the Yankees and Ramirez are concerned, there are many.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman shot down a report from the Dominican Republic that the club would sign Ramirez to a three-year, $75 million contract this week, telling MLB.com it was "not true."
But the Yankees have been debating internally about the merits of adding Ramirez. Though Ramirez's off-field theatrics have been the stuff of legend, particularly in Boston, Jeter said the Yankees have a way of turning wild spirits into winning baseball.
"We've had some free personalities through the years," Jeter said. "David Wells was his own person, [Jason] Giambi was his own person, [and] Johnny [Damon is] his own person. There's a lot of different personalities that play on our team.
"It's just when you're out on the field, you're trying to accomplish one thing, and we welcome people with their own personalities."
Many believe the Yankees need one more big bat after bidding farewell to Giambi and Bobby Abreu, and missing the postseason largely because of an inconsistent offense. But count Jeter among those who believe the Yankees can get it done as currently comprised.
"I think we have a pretty good lineup," Jeter said. "I don't think scoring runs really has been the issue we've had the last few years. I think we've scored plenty of runs. It's just finding ways to shut teams down."
On that front, Jeter complimented Cashman's work in securing the club's top two choices on the free-agent pitching market. New York formally introduced CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, representing $243.5 million in future salary commitments between them.
"I think they've done a great job adding CC and A.J. You couldn't ask for two better starters," Jeter said. "That was all along what we said we needed, and they've done that. And anything else they do now is just a bonus."
Jeter said he visited the new Yankee Stadium on Monday, the first time he had been there since the old ballpark's finale in late September.
He was impressed by the progress made in the home clubhouse, a room he feels a bit brighter about knowing that Sabathia and Burnett will be dropping their belongings off for the April 16 opener against the Indians.
"Personally, I'm glad we don't have to face A.J. anymore," Jeter said. "His stuff is as good as any pitcher in baseball. And CC, what can you say about him? He's probably as dominating a lefty as there is. Him and [Johan] Santana are the first two names that come to mind. The healthier [Burnett and Sabathia] are, the better we'll be."
Jeter also said he has spoken with free-agent left-hander Andy Pettitte, who continues to be hung up in a salary tiff with the Yankees over his 2009 return. The club wants Pettitte back, and Pettitte wants to pitch in the new Yankee Stadium, but Jeter said he would leave the negotiations to his longtime teammate.
"I'll let Andy speak for Andy. I hope [he returns]," Jeter said. "I've been with Andy for a long time. I know he really enjoys playing here in New York and it means a lot to him. I don't know all the details of it, but I would love to see him back."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.