It’s become quite obvious no one can replace Derek Jeter in the clubhouse or on the field, but one day someone is going to have to take his vacant locker, the same locker he occupied for the last 19 seasons. The question is, who? The Yankees answered that question on Friday when equipment manager Rob Cucuzza approached Brett Gardner on the situation and suggested Gardner move into Jeter’s old locker.
“He mentioned it to me, but I don’t know if anybody else is taking it or if he wants me to take it,” Gardner said to the New York Post of Cucuzza. “I told him I thought he should leave it vacant. But he said he can’t leave it vacant forever, obviously.”
When Gardner first stepped into the Yankees clubhouse in 2009, he was given whatever locker the team had available. However, after being the longest tenured homegrown Yankee and signed through at least 2018, Gardner deserved the right to upgrade his locker and the team wants him to have Jeter’s. Gardner on the other hand, isn’t sure if he should.
“I haven’t really put too much thought into it, out of respect for other guys,” Gardner said. “Maybe somebody else is getting it, or I’m not getting it.”
How does Joe Girardi feel about the entire locker debate?
“It’s a locker,” Girardi said. “It’s not [Jeter’s] number. It’s not a ‘C’ on your chest. It’s a locker. He had a locker at the old Yankee Stadium. They didn’t move that over.
“Is it a convenient locker? Yes. Someone will probably really like it. But that’s Robbie’s job, and I let Robbie do his job.”
Cucuzza reminded Gardner that Jeter’s locker can’t stay vacant forever, but the Yankees feel there’s no one more deserving than Gardner. He exemplifies what it means to be a leader, and while he’s not Captain material yet, he is one of the guys the young kids can go to in the clubhouse whenever they need guidance. It’s a role Jeter had and a role Gardner has grown into exceptionally well.