Derek Jeter — appearing at his annual Turn 2 Foundation Holiday Express event at Yankee Stadium — sounded a little confused about the New York Yankees sudden Scrooge-like approach to their payroll but was downright jolly when it came to answering questions about his reported weight gain and chances he will be ready by Opening Day.
Still wearing his walking boot on his left ankle while riding around in a golf cart with a person dressed as Santa, Jeter looked slim — sitting next to the bearded fat man can do that — and told fans to be patient before they jumped to conclusions about the Yankees trimming the fat from the payroll.
"It's the Yankees," he said. "I'll believe it when we get to spring training. Just when you expect us not to do something, something happens. That's pretty much been the norm in the 17 years I've been here.
"So I really don't know what's going to happen. I don't pay attention to payroll, and what the payroll is supposed to be, this year, that year, tax benefits. It's too much for me to think about ... But the offseason is not over."
Almost outshone by Santa, Jeter was still the big star of his annual event which helps his troop of "Jeter's Leaders"— outstanding high school students — and hands out holiday gift bags to kids. The hobbling shortstop said his recovery from surgery was right on schedule.
"I've been walking out on this boot for about a week, 10 days, so yeah, it was a tough five or six weeks, pretty much sitting on the couch with you foot elevated , but now I feel good," he said. "I think I'm right where I need to be."
"We still have some time before Opening Day," he added. "There's no reason I can't be ready Opening Day."
About the media reports regarding his weight gain, Jeter joked that he had been "put in a Santa suit a few days ago" by the unflattering photo.
Jeter didn't need the red suit to show some holiday spirit to the kids yesterday.