Don Mattingly happy Derek Jeter retiring on his own terms

Harry How

Mattingly saw Jeter up close in 14 of the shortstop's first 15 spring trainings.

GLENDALE -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on Wednesday announced the 2014 season would be his final campaign, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a front row seat for the formative years of Jeter's career.

Mattingly's final three seasons as a player — 1993-95 — coincided with Jeter's first three spring trainings as a player after getting drafted in 1992.

"I saw him the first day he walked into spring training right out of high school. He was a skinny little kid, but was probably the toughest guy I think I've ever seen on the field," Mattingly recalled. "He was competitive. He's been winning since he's got there."

Jeter won five World Series titles with the Yankees and has hit .312/.381/.446 in his career to date, with 13 All-Star appearances in 19 seasons. Jeter ranks 10th on the all-time hit list with 3,316, and needs 120 hits to pass Cap Anson for sixth place.

"I always think about spring training with him. Just because you get to see him as a 17-year-old kid out of high school who looks like he's out of place. Then the next year he looked a little better, then the next year this kid is starting to look like something, then all of a sudden he's a star," Mattingly said. "To be able to coach and be around him as a coach was great."

"[Derek Jeter] was probably the toughest guy I think I've ever seen on the field." -Don Mattingly

In addition to three years as a player, Mattingly was a special assistant during spring training for the Yankees from 1997-2003 and a coach on the major league staff in New York from 2004-2007.

"When I found out how good he was going to be, I remember talking to him about something at short about getting rid of the ball and getting his feet. Then I watched him the next day and he already had it," Mattingly said. "There was no real adjustment, I just talked to him about something and he already made it his a day later.

"I'm excited for him. Derek deserves to go out on his own terms. He has been so good for so long. I'm glad that he's going to be able to do it the way he wants to do it."

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