Mar 2, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Brendan Ryan (17) warms up in the outfield prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Perks & Concerns Of Backing Up A Legend

Derek Jeter is arguably one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game. When watching Jeter on film, players can learn a lot from what he does on the field. Watching him in the dugout though is a whole different experience. This is what Brendan Ryan will have the opportunity to experience this season. Ryan was traded to the Yankees in September and in November he agreed to a new contract with the Yankees worth $5 million dollars over 2 years.

Ryan is slated to be insurance for Derek Jeter, especially in late game situations as a defensive replacement. Ryan knows he must perform this duty during the captain’s final season as he said,

I relate to the fans a lot. I still pinch myself. Here I am: I’m insurance to THE Derek Jeter. That’s pretty special. It’s something I’ll tell my kids about. Whether there’s a tremendous amount of glory or not, I think the experience will be super, super special. Something I’ll never forget.

However, along with the joy and excitement that comes with the job, there is also concern and pressure felt by Ryan. There is always that scenario where the Captain could re-injure his ankle. Then what? Well, Brendan Ryan becomes the “replacement” for Jeter. This can obviously bring pressure to the 31-year-old shortstop, especially because he is playing in New York, and the last time I checked, the Yankee faithful are not the most accepting fans when players feel the pressure of New York. Ryan had little to say about the subject by saying, “It’s a slippery thing.”

Ryan is a Los Angeles native who went to Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. He was drafted in 2003 by the St. Louis Cardinals and came to the majors through their farm system. In 2010, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners where he displayed his Gold Glove-caliber fielding skills, however he has struggled with the bat.

The Yankees hope that Brendan Ryan can spell the Captain every few games or in late blowout situations. Remember, Jeter is 40-years-old, he is not the same player he was a decade ago. This is why this is his final season. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman spoke of Ryan’s purpose by stating, “He was signed to be available to come off the bench…We wanted to give Joe [manager Girardi] some choices.”

The Yankees might want to look for a younger, more balanced player to replace Jeter after this season. However, for now, Ryan is the right player to back up the Captain. This situation reminds me of a veteran back up quarterback in football. Ryan has been around the league, but he just has not done anything that puts him in that elite shortstop category. He will learn a lot from Jeter not just about being a better ball player, but being a better teammate and leader as well.

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