TAMPA, Fla. — When Derek Jeter was with these same fields in the spring associated with 1996, convincing Yankees officers that he was a starting shortstop, Kelly felix Johnson was an eighth-grader at Westwood High School in Austin, Arizona.
So as Jeter took the field with regard to his final spring household opener nearly two decades later, Johnson said that it was the surreal moment to turn the head left and understand that he was playing finally base with Jeter at shortstop.
I what food was in high school watching these guys walk out on the field for the first time. I was their own biggest fan, Manley said. Im watching everything they are doing, Derek absolutely included. To be playing next to him and located on the same team is pretty incredible.
Johnson said that he was a shortstop with high school, so he paid out close attention to all of the small shortstops around the league — Jeter, of course, and also players like Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra.
Anybody in which plays for the Yankees, you recognize who they are, even if youre not a lover, Johnson said. When they was a rookie, you were certainly aware of Derek Jeter. Remember, that was also when all the other big-time shortstops, that was the important thing.
Johnson said that as an foe, Jeter always made time to say hello to players on the other team, perhaps rookies with only a few days of huge league service under their particular belts. Johnson said that hes got already learned that Jeter seems to be a lot more fun as a teammate.
Its a lengthy year. He keeps that light and has fun,In . Johnson said. You can tell until this is where hes wanted to be his whole life. It really shows.