When Derek Jeter finally agreed to a three-year contract extension last December, after two months of nasty back-and-forth negotiations between the iconic shortstop and the only team he has ever played for, it seemed the worst was over for the New York Yankees' captain. In retrospect, it was just beginning.
Six weeks into the 2011 season, Jeter is struggling. Not until last weekend did he hit his first home run, and he is batting just .276 with nine RBI.
Though Jeter was never the offensive dynamo his teammate, Alex Rodriguez, can be, his numbers are usually significantly better than that. At 37, the whispers that Jeter is past his prime and in decline, are getting louder.
In New York, there has already been widespread speculation that Joe Girardi, the manager, will eventually face the inevitable and remove Jeter from the top of the batting order, dropping him down to sixth or seventh, a spot hardly befitting a legend and longtime team captain.
How will Jeter respond? And what if Jeter does not respond at all, that this is all there is - with two more guaranteed seasons on his US$51 million (Dh187m) contract remaining?
Last week, the Yankees' general manager labelled Jeter an "above-average shortstop" in a radio interview, and though he did not mean it to be, the remark came off as back-hand compliment.
That is what it has come to in New York, where the legend of Derek Jeter seems to be heading to an unhappy ending.