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Didi Gregorius hasn't received nearly as much attention as you'd expect . . . yet

New York Yankees SS Didi Gregorius during batting

New York Yankees SS Didi Gregorius during batting practice at George Steinbrenner Field on his first day of Spring Training in Tampa, Fla. Feb. 26, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. - In any other spring training camp, the man replacing Derek Jeter would barely have room to breathe.

Every throw would be charted, every drill dissected, every movement and news conference meticulously documented by hand and camera.

But this, you may have read and heard, isn't any other Yankees camp. The focus here is on third base, or first base -- basically, wherever Alex Rodriguez is.

And so, Didi Gregorius has gone about his work mostly unnoticed.

"People didn't pay a lot of attention to Didi the first few days of camp,'' Joe Girardi said Saturday after his team was forced to conduct its full workout indoors because of heavy rain. "I'm sure it helped him to get comfortable a little bit earlier and get a chance to get to know his teammates without having to answer a lot of questions.''

Gregorius, 25, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the offseason, is a big part of the Yankees' attempt to bring some youth to their roster.

Though his career numbers are unimpressive -- a .243 batting average with a .313 on-base percentage, 13 homers and 57 RBIs in 191 games -- the Yankees believe the lefthanded-hitting shortstop, who at times can be outstanding in the field, has a significant upside. The club sees a far-from-finished product.

"I'm going to put my best foot forward to have a good season and get a ring,'' said the affable Gregorius, who hit his first career homer at the Stadium -- a first-pitch blast to rightfield off Phil Hughes on April 18, 2013.

Gregorius' early focus in spring training, especially in the cages, is working on hitting lefthanded pitching better. He has hit .184 with a .257 OBP in 163 at-bats against lefties. The Diamondbacks all but gave up on giving him at-bats against lefthanders, but Girardi said that won't happen in spring training. "I'm just going to play him,'' he said.

Said Gregorius: "It all starts in the cage, so we're working really hard right now . . . I'm trying to get better against lefties; that's one thing I'm looking forward to.''

He knows the shoes he is stepping into. "I'm just going to go out there and play the game,'' said Gregorius, who added that he did not hear from Jeter in the offseason. "That's all I can do. Play the game hard, day in and day out. Like I was telling everybody, what Jeter did, nobody else is going to do that. So if they compare me to Jeter, there's nothing I can do.''

But Gregorius has this working for him in regard to the Jeter comparisons: Jeter was a shell of himself last season, hitting a career-worst .256 with a .304 OBP and demonstrating almost no range in the field. Fewer teams had worse production from their everyday shortstop than the Yankees did.

So Gregorius, at least early in his Yankees career, needs only to be better than the 2014 Jeter, not the icon whose career at the position ranks among the best in baseball history.

While attention hasn't been lavished upon Gregorius yet, Girardi knows it is coming. He isn't concerned. "He's not taking his job away from him [Jeter], so hopefully it's an easy transition,'' he said.

He later added: "Until a player gets in the situation, you never know how he's going to react, but I do feel good about how he's going to react because I think he's pretty easygoing. Obviously, he's replacing one of the greatest Yankees of all-time, but Derek was ready to go, and that probably helps.''

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