CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura finally had to admit Sunday that the past four days of emotional outpouring for New York Yankees superstar Derek Jeter in his team's home ballpark was a little strange.
Seeing the Yankees captain and 20-year veteran deliver a four-hit game Sunday wasn’t all that odd. It was the constant standing ovations, a scoreboard video presentation and the offering of pregame gifts that finally had Ventura taken aback.
"That's just stuff we've seen forever," Ventura said about Jeter’s four hits, before getting to what was really on his mind.
"It's weird. You even look at the start of the game and everything that happened before the game. It's a little weird. I mean, you see that happen, but he's not dying; he's just retiring. It's weird. I'm sure it's uncomfortable for him going through all of it, but he's a great player."
Ventura meant no disrespect. He was a former teammate of Jeter for two seasons with the Yankees and holds the shortstop’s accomplishments in high esteem. So maybe it was knowing Jeter as a friend first and a ballplayer second that had Ventura marveling at how “weird” it all was.
"It's totally warranted, but it's a little weird," Ventura said, repeating his word of the day yet again. "You hear about it, but seeing it today it is a little weird because he's just going to start living. It's just weird, weird looking at it."
For those not keeping score, that was seven times that Ventura described the celebration of Jeter as "weird."
"Well, he deserves it," Ventura said. "Over the course of his career, who he's played for, how he's done it, all that stuff, he deserves it. Now he can go somewhere else to do it."
White Sox players seemed less weirded out.
"Obviously, it’s well deserved and it should be done by every team for what he's done not just in the game but out of the game,” White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. “You hear stories about him all the time just doing the right thing in situations, things kind of above and beyond the call of human beings. It's nice to see that.
“He's a completely down-to-earth guy. He comes up to the plate, asks me how I'm doing, all that. He doesn't know me from Joe but he still respects the game, respects everyone in it, plays the right way. It just seems to be first class all the way. It's not a show. He really is a good guy."
Gordon Beckham also expressed a little weirdness about it all, but not in the same context as his manager.
"Obviously, I admire [Jeter] very much," Beckham said. "I think that’s been well documented, but it’s fun to play against him because he plays hard, he plays the right way. It will be weird not having him at shortstop for the Yankees next year, I know that."
And maybe Jeter is finding it a little weird as well.
"The first day he was ready to go; he was like, 'All right, let's go, let's go,'" Flowers said about the standing ovation Jeter got during his first at-bat Thursday. "But he seems to be one of those guys. Of course, he likes the spotlight, so to speak, because he's always in it, but he doesn't want it necessarily. That’s just my opinion."