With no intention of 'replacing' Jeter, Didi eager for shot

New Yankees shortstop embracing opportunity to play under spotlight

With no intention of 'replacing' Jeter, Didi eager for shot

NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius has said that he is looking forward to this new opportunity with the Yankees, and he certainly doesn't sound nervous about the challenge of being the man who succeeds Derek Jeter at shortstop.

"You can't replace a legend, and it's not replacing," Gregorius said Wednesday on MLB Network Radio. "He has been playing for a long time at shortstop and he decided to retire. The spot was open, so I'm not thinking about replacing anything. It's just me just coming in there to try to play my game."

Acquired from the D-backs in a three-team trade on Dec. 4, Gregorius turns 25 on Feb. 18. The athletic defensive whiz is envisioned as the Yanks' Opening Day shortstop, though the team has talked about using him in a platoon where Brendan Ryan would face the majority of left-handed pitchers.

Gregorius has the assignment of following Jeter, who called it a career last year after two decades in the big leagues. Jeter batted .256 with four homers and 50 RBIs in 145 games, and the Yankees are hopeful that Gregorius will represent an improvement over the 2014 version of Jeter on both offense and defense.

"I'm sure they're going to compare me to Derek Jeter, but you know, nobody can play the same," Gregorius said. "What Jeter did, nobody can do that. So for me, it's just amazing to get the opportunity to play in the pinstripes."

Gregorius has said that he has heard from many Yanks fans via social media, and he recently visited his new workplace, touring Yankee Stadium and even snapping photos in Times Square. He said that he looks forward to the challenge of New York's brighter spotlight.

"I know they expect a lot of you," Gregorius said. "I'm just going to go out there and just play the game hard. That's the way I play the game every time. And maybe they're going to see something different about me that they didn't see before, so I think that's one big thing for me and for the fans, too, maybe to get to know me a little bit better when I start playing the game."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.