Interview with Tino Martinez: Derek Jeter's retirement, Masahiro Tanaka, and outlook on 2014

Nick Laham

Paul Goebel of Amazin Avenue recently visited the MLB Fan Cave and sat down with Tino Martinez to get his thoughts on Derek Jeter's retirement and much more. Thanks to Paul for letting me share the interview on Pinstripe Alley, and thanks to Tino too! -Tanya

Q: It's Derek Jeter's final season. He's dealt with some injuries in the past. How do you think the season is going to play out for him?

A: I think it's going to be a good season for him again. You know, you can never count Derek out. As long as he's healthy, which he is right now, he should have another solid season. I expect him to hit .300 again, play good defense, and really help that team win. They've got a good ballclub, so I know he's excited about finishing up strong and having a great year.

Q: And could you speak to what it was like having him in the clubhouse?

A: Derek's first year, his rookie year, was my first year with the Yankees, so I played with him his first six or seven years in a row. And just to watch him come to the ballpark every day, excited and with energy to play the game, that never changes. And as the years have gone by he couldn't wait for the baseball season to begin. Every day at the ballpark he's happy, he's fired up, he's ready to go, and he's very well-prepared to play every day.

Q: What were some of your best moments in your final season?

A: Playing with guys like Derek and Jorge [Posada] and Bernie [Williams]. I used to cherish those opportunities because they are great guys and great teammates. And to watch them do so well as these years have gone by and to watch how Derek has done has been fantastic. I had a lot of great memories but playing with those guys was so much fun.

Q: What do you think of the outlook for the Yankees this season? They've spent a lot of money, brought in a lot of new faces. It's a tough division. Do you think they have what it takes?

A: It's a tough AL East. When the offseason began, I thought they were in trouble. The other teams were getting better. But the signings they made with McCann and Beltran and [Masahiro] Tanaka of course, they've got a really solid ballclub right now and their success depends on the health of the team. If [Mark] Teixeira's healthy, if Derek's healthy, if [Carlos] Beltran stays healthy, those guys could have a pretty good season and a solid chance to win the World Series.

Q: Tanaka was obviously the biggest headline. What do you think of him?

A: I saw him in spring training a couple of times already and he's the real deal. The guy's confident. He's a great pitcher obviously. He's got great stuff. But the way he's gone about his business from handling the media every day and just the confidence he has, it just shows me he's not overwhelmed by anything. I don't expect Yankee Stadium or the AL East to bother him at all. He's going to have a great season.

Q: What Yankee do you think most resembles you?

A: Well (chuckling), I don't want to compare myself to anybody because I don't want to bring them down, but I liken myself to guys like Lou Piniella and Thurman Munson. Guys that weren't very fast or didn't have the most talent but played hard every single day. Got base hits when we needed them. Played good defense. And tried to be a good teammate.

Q: And favorite player?

A: Derek's always been my favorite player. He's the one guy that I watch. When I retired, I still watched the Yankees because of him.

Q: How much are you going to watch when Derek's gone?

A: That's going to change a little bit. A lot of the time, I'll watch a game, and after he bats I change the channel and watch something else. About half an hour later I'll come back to see he's hitting again. So, I don't know. We'll see.

Q: And I understand you wanted to talk about your partnership with MLB.

A: I'm excited to be a part of it. This year Arm and Hammer and Oxi Clean are joining Major League Baseball as a sponsor and Major League Baseball is very happy to have them. You know we all have our uniforms washed as kids and professionals so it's a great part of the game.

Q: And you're doing the partnership with Doc. If you guys faced each other today, who do you think would end up on top?

A: Oh, I don't know. I think back in the day, when Doc was on top of his game, he was one of those guys that was basically unhittable. I know if I faced a 19-year-old Doc Gooden, he'd be tough to hit.

Tino Martinez joined Church & Dwight to announce a multi-year, multi-category sponsorship agreement with Major League Baseball Properties making ARM & HAMMERTM and OxiCleanTM "The Official Laundry Detergent and Stain Remover of MLB." Fans can get involved by participating in the "Cover The Bases" sweepstakes for chances to win MLB merchandise and game tickets, including All-Star Game and World Series tickets, and the grand prize of a Chevy Equinox. For more information, fans can visit CoverTheBases.com – everyone who participates is entered for a chance to win the grand prize.

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