The latest from Joe Sheehan:
[Derek Jeter is] just like hundreds of late-thirties baseball players who have lost the fraction of a second of reaction time or bat speed or both that represent the difference between being a major leaguer and being a minor leaguer. I cannot emphasize enough just how small a difference we’re talking about here. The difference between being good enough and not isn’t heart or desire or dedication or work ethic, although those things can close the gap. The difference is biology, physiology, musculature. It’s these tiny edges one guy has on another, and the edges don’t last forever. Almost every player crosses the line at some point. It is quite possible that Jeter has done so, moving in microscopic increments over the past three years, and is no longer on the right side of it.
Like any competitor he’s fighting the process, working extensively on mechanical changes this spring that would serve to cancel the lost microseconds, then discarding them before tax day when the results weren’t there. Leave aside the visuals and look at the output. The “toe-tap” approach Kevin Long looked to instill only seemed to exacerbate Jeter’s inability to get the ball in the air. A season after he hit nearly two of every three balls in play on the ground, he’s hit four of every five on the ground to kick off 2011. You can count the line drives he’s hit on one hand and the fly balls he’s hit on the other. Two years ago, Jeter went through a similar process to sustain his defense, working on his flexibility to improve his range. That change took, at least for a season, but this one appears, in the early going, to be moot.