CLEVELAND -- This is not the time for Derek Jeter to get nostalgic, even though this week's All-Star Game will be the final one of the New York Yankees shortstop's Hall of Fame career.
Jeter, who announced in February that this would be his last season, has been selected to the All-Star team 14 times, although he opted out of the 2011 game.
He insists that he won't place his final All-Star appearance Tuesday in Minnesota over any of the others.
"They have all been special, and I said that when I had the opportunity to go to my first one in '98," Jeter said before the Yankees played the Cleveland Indians last week at Progressive Field. "I enjoy it."
If that first All-Star Game in 1998 seems long ago, consider it in this context: The Phillies representative was Curt Schilling, who retired from the Boston Red Sox after the 2007 season. (That, of course, was the year before the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series.)
Jeter is approaching his last All-Star Game with the same enthusiasm as he did his first.
"I enjoy getting the opportunity to know the guys who you admire from afar," he said. "You get to know their personalities."
In typical Jeter fashion, he won't rank this last one any higher than the others.
"It's a fan's game," he said. "Any time you get a chance to go, it's a special feeling, and I never take that for granted."
Yankees reliever Dellin Betances is making his first All-Star appearance, and he said the timing couldn't have been better. The 6-foot-8 hard-throwing righthander grew up a Yankees fans in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.
"You are talking about a guy I grew up watching, a Hall of Fame guy," Betances said. "For me it's an honor to participate in his last All-Star Game, and I am definitely looking forward to it."
Jeter had a cameo with the Yankees in 1995 before staying full-time beginning the following season. His achievements are well-documented, highlighted by the five World Series championships, the most recent in 2009 against the Phillies.
Jeter has always been known as a player who shines when the lights are brightest. He has a career .321 average in seven World Series. (He hit .407 in the Series win over the Phillies). Even his all-star average is .440.
Jeter has become one of the faces of the game for the way he performs on the field and conducts himself off it. But, no surprise, he said he hasn't pondered his image.
"I have never looked at myself as some sort of a role model; I just am who I am," he said.
When asked about Mike Trout possibly becoming a face of the game, Jeter briefly weighed in on the Los Angeles Angels star.
"Mike does a great job handling himself and has done a tremendous job handling success," Jeter said. "Sometimes it can be difficult to do, but he has done a good job."
Now 40, Jeter appears to have made a prudent decision about retirement. After appearing in just 17 games last year because of injuries, he has played regularly. Jeter entered Saturday hitting .269 with two home runs and 24 RBIs this season. (His career average is .311.)
Despite the pedestrian numbers, the fans voted him in for the ninth time as a starter. Just like last year with his former teammate, Mariano Rivera, Jeter's final appearance will be the major story line of this All-Star Game.
Jeter will approach it as if it is a normal game, but there is nothing typical about a legend's final all-star appearance.
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