SF@NYY: Ichiro honored for reaching 4,000 career hits

TAMPA, Fla. -- The crowded Yankees outfield promises to make this Ichiro Suzuki's most uncertain spring as a big league player, but the veteran expects that he will be able to find a niche to help the team win games.

Upon learning that the Yankees had added both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran this winter, Ichiro said that his immediate reaction was to exclaim: "Oops!"

"This is a place where the greatest players gather and play, so I'm really excited to play with those guys," Ichiro said through an interpreter. "Obviously with the additions, I'm going to have to find a place for myself.

"But I've worked hard this offseason and I've worked on a lot of things. Throughout Spring Training, hopefully those things will come together and we'll see where it goes from there."

The Yankees project to have Ellsbury in center field, Beltran in right field and Brett Gardner in left field. Alfonso Soriano will see time at designated hitter, but can be available to play the outfield with Ichiro, who may be asked to fill roles as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement.

"It starts tomorrow," Ichiro said. "My job up to this point was to come here healthy, in good shape, and that's what I did. I'm here and we'll see where it goes tomorrow."

Ichiro, 40, acknowledged that he had thoughts this offseason about being traded.

"When you're here with the Yankees, you tend to think about those things," Ichiro said. "You just never know, like I said before, with great players coming here. I thought about a lot of things, which I think a lot of players do."

Ichiro has 2,742 Major League hits, and said that he is not thinking about reaching 3,000. As he heads into his 14th big league season, Ichiro said that he is not sure how much longer he expects to play.

"I do have goals and dreams about certain things, but when you get into the late 30s, you just have to take it year by year," Ichiro said. "Obviously you have goals within that, but you can't really make a long-term goal when you're in this stage. I think you just take it year by year and go from there."

Jeter's retirement announcement promotes foundation

Jeter answers questions from the media

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter has often said that because of how much he values his privacy, the Yankees captain would never dabble with social media. So why did Jeter choose Facebook to make one of the most important announcements of his career?

The answer was simple, as Jeter explained on Wednesday. Jeter released his 15-paragraph note on the afternoon of Feb. 12 via the Facebook page for his Turn 2 Foundation, aiming to draw more attention to the organization's message.

"Everyone said, 'First of all, I didn't even know you had a Facebook page,' but if you guys scroll down a little further, you'd see a lot of this Facebook page has to do with my foundation," Jeter said. "So that was one of my hopes.

"One, I wanted to get the entire message out. I didn't want people to cut and paste it and put what they chose. I wanted people to read the entire message. And two, for selfish reasons, I thought it would draw a little bit more attention to the foundation."

Formed in 1996, the mission statement of Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation is "to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and turn to healthy lifestyles."

Jeter said that he wrote "each and every word" of the statement, which has received more than 74,750 "likes" as of Wednesday.

"I was sitting down at home and I had a few questions I wanted to answer, so I started taking notes," Jeter said. "I wish I would have brought the notebook to show you, but it was a lot of pages. I could have written another three or four pages, but I thought I'd lose interest of people after one.

"But I just answered a few questions I had, and I wrote down my thoughts and my ideas."

Gardner welcomes Ellsbury addition, move to left

Gardner on new contract, learning from Elllsbury

TAMPA, Fla. -- Brett Gardner was holding court with reporters at his clubhouse locker on Wednesday morning, when Derek Jeter, who would draw a much larger media contingent later in the day, walked by.

"You're getting traded now?" Jeter asked Gardner. "Not yet, Jeet," Gardner replied. "Is that Facebook account fake, by the way?"

After seeing his name pop up in trade rumors all offseason, Gardner is still with the Yankees. The 30-year-old expects to slide back over to left field this year, making room for Jacoby Ellsbury to take over the everyday duties in center field.

"I feel comfortable over there," Gardner said. "I told [manager] Joe [Girardi] I can play right too if he needs me to. I'll do whatever I'm needed to do to help the team win. Wherever I'm playing out there, wherever I'm hitting in the lineup, whatever he needs me to do, I'll be ready."

Gardner said that he was surprised when the Yankees landed Ellsbury with a seven-year, $153 million deal, but he believes that the former Red Sox outfielder will improve the roster.

"Having him over here makes us a better team," Gardner said. "I'm happy to play alongside of him and learn from him, and he's obviously a real good baserunner. We're kind of the same type of player, and maybe some things that he has I can learn from him, and push each other to get better."

Seeing the shift in the Yankees' outfield, Gardner became a popular trade target for other clubs. In December, general manager Brian Cashman rejected a proposal from the Reds that would have swapped Gardner for second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Yankees officials said at the time that they were not shopping Gardner and would consider dealing him only for a front-line starting pitcher. Around that time, Gardner said that he heard from Girardi, telling him not to pay attention to the rumors.

"[Girardi called] just to let me know that with Jacoby over there, he still envisioned me playing a big role on the team," Gardner said. "Just to keep my mind in a good place, and not to worry about everything you see and hear."