‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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At 37, Derek Jeter has discovered the fountain of youth — but he’s not letting anyone know of its secret location.

As the calendar turned from April to May, Jeter collected three hits as the Yankees slumped to a 7-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.  It seems no matter how good or bad the Yankees are performing, Jeter always tends to do his part with workmanlike precision.

His 2012 batting average now stands at an even .400, which ranks best in the American League and is only bettered by Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Jeter leads all major leaguers with 40 hits but has also rediscovered his power stroke.

Already, Jeter has launched four home runs.  His most recent round-tripper came on April 18th against Matt Capps of the Minnesota Twins.  Believe or not, Jeter has as many homers on May 2nd, 2012 as he did on September 2nd, 2011.

His prolonged 2011 slump seems like a distant memory, almost erased by his second half surge and scorching start to 2012.

Obviously, there will come a day when Jeter calls time on his career and hangs up his spikes but I’m hard-pressed to find any evidence of his bat slowing down.

Jeter recently spoke to Tyler Kepner of The New York Times about the confident attitude that has carried him throughout his career.

“That’s the only way you can play this sport,” Jeter said. “That’s the only way you can play here. I mean, no offense, but there’s a lot of negativity around here. The only way to get through it is to be positive, and that’s just what I’ve always tried to do. I don’t like to talk about negative things. You should try to take the positive out of anything.”

I look at Jeter in the same light as I do Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings.  They’re two legendary players who’ve won practically everything there is to win in their respective sports and are models of unblemished consistency.

Jeter and Lidstrom have won countless championships, hold team important records and gained numerous personal accolades while remaining the faces of proud, historic franchises.

They’ve earned a right that few athletes have in recent history.  They can retire on their own terms while wearing the same uniform they did as a rookie.  No one will tell them when to call it quits.  It’s entirely up to them to keep going as long as they’re satisfied with their performance level and enjoying the daily grind.

I’m hoping to see the man with No. 2 on his back continue on beyond his current contract and push himself toward passing Hank Aaron on the all-time hits list at 3,771.  He’s 644 hits away from sole possession of third place.

It will be difficult but Jeter is a hard guy to ever count out.

How impressive has Jeter’s start to 2012 been?  How much longer can he stay at this level?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.

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