Jeter on A-Rod: 'We support each other'
Yanks captain says teammates are on 'same page on the field'
TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter said Tuesday that his cooled friendship with Alex Rodriguez is an unimportant topic, one day after the third baseman admitted that the teammates are no longer as close as they once were.
"It doesn't surprise me," Jeter said Tuesday. "I don't see the relevance of it. We support each other and we're pulling for each other. That's all that matters. The relationship has no bearing on us playing baseball."
On Monday, Rodriguez said that he and Jeter had been the "best of friends," and drew an analogy with which he claimed that he no longer slept over at Jeter's place five nights a week.
Once close friends who were often spotted joking around during games and dining together after them, such a tight bond no longer exists, for a variety of reasons.
Even so, both players said the relationship is nowhere near as fractured as some reports would indicate.
"Everyone paints this picture of what's going on between us, and no one really knows," Jeter said.
In one memorable instance last August, Jeter and Rodriguez converged on an infield pop-up in a blowout loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Both players called for the ball, neither made the catch, and the next day's tabloids claimed that Jeter had been spotted shooting Rodriguez a dirty look.
"We laughed about it in the clubhouse," Jeter said. "You guys didn't see it, but we laughed about it. People are going to make their stories up. If they see us at opposite ends of the bench, they're going to say, 'Oh, they don't like each other.'"
Yankees manager Joe Torre said that he did not have a problem with the fashion in which events were carried out. Torre said he does not believe that the duo's relationship is a matter that will impact the team in the clubhouse or on the field.
"To me, the most important thing is being able to address things and make yourself feel better," Torre said. "Evidently, what Alex was talking about [Monday] sort of made him feel better."
Jeter said that his role as team captain is something that he holds dearly, and that he continues to support every one of his teammates.
Some have suggested that Jeter could have made a public plea to fans on Rodriguez's behalf last season, when the two-time MVP was fighting through extended hitting slumps and receiving negative reactions from the fans at Yankee Stadium on a near-daily basis.
Jeter said that he indeed had supported Rodriguez behind closed doors, but that coordinating the vocal responses of some 57,000 paying customers falls well out of his jurisdiction.
"The only thing I'm not going to do is tell the fans what to do," Jeter said. "Fans are free to do whatever they want to do. I don't think it's my job to tell fans to boo or not to boo."
Jeter said that he spoke with Rodriguez on Monday, and that Rodriguez said he had never felt a lack of support from Jeter.
The public admission of the relationship's change created yet another back-page story in a Yankees camp that has had no shortage of intriguing storylines.
Still, it was not a topic of importance to Jeter, who repeatedly said that Rodriguez's comments had nothing to do with what the Yankees are trying to do on the field, and that speculation about the friendship has been "annoying to hear about."
Jeter said that Rodriguez is free to discuss whatever he wants in the future, but that Tuesday marked the final time Jeter would discuss the state of their friendship.
"It doesn't matter how much we hung out in the past, or how much time we hang out now," Jeter said. "As long as we're on the same page on the field, that's the thing that really matters."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.