"Now leading off for the Yankees . . . ''

. . . Number two, still, number two, Derek Jeter.''

So says manager Joe Girardi in his first interview session of the spring, as predicted here and manyother places throughout the winter. Jeter, who suffered through a sub-par 2010 season in which he hit an inordinate number of groundballs and into an alarming number of double plays, will begin 2011 at the top of the Yankee lineup again.

"We signed him to be our shortstop and we signed him to be our leadoff hitter,'' Girardi said. "He had a couple of rough months last year (but by ) September he was back to being Derek, I thought. So I’m not really too concerned about him as our leadoff hitter.''

Asked if he thought the contentious contract negoitiations that resulted in a new four-year deal would affect jeter's play this season, Girardi said: "I think that's all behind Derek. He hadn’t had to go through a contract negotiation in a long time, but he's very professional, he’s very in tune with what his role is as the captain of the New York Yankees and as the leadoff hitter of the New York yankees. He understands what he’s supposed to do. Will he want to prove to some people that he’s not a .280, .290 hitter? Maybe. But I think he tries to prove that every year and I don;t think this will be different than any other season.''