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Strawberry: Jeter must 'embrace' A-Rod

NEW YORK -- Darryl Strawberry thinks the Yankees' clubhouse
is beset by bad chemistry that can be cured only one way: Derek Jeter needs to "embrace" Alex Rodriguez.

"They've got to come together," Strawberry said Tuesday.
"It's time for them to mend their relationship and get back to,
like, OK, let's have some fun. We're here in New York together.
We're on the greatest team that we possibly could play on. Let's
try to win instead of going separate ways. Because I remember them
when they were young and they went to dinner together and they did
everything together."

Strawberry, a former Yankees and Mets star, spoke after a news
conference to announce that Yankees special adviser Ray Negron's
book "The Boy of Steel" will be made into a movie. The book tells
the story of a cancer patient who became a Yankees bat boy for a
day.

Strawberry was a player development instructor for the Yankees
before resigning in February 2004. He shifted to the Mets as a
spring training instructor in 2005 and plans on being with them
next year.

His remarks about the Yankees' chemistry were sparked by
questions regarding the return of Andy Pettitte, who played with
Strawberry on three of the Yankees' World Series championship
teams. Pettitte was in New York for a physical Tuesday, and his
contract could be finalized Wednesday.

"Hopefully, it will rub off on the team, guys will get more
supportive of each other," Strawberry said. "I think the Yankees'
problem is that they just don't support each other enough. I mean,
back when I played in those years we were winning, we all supported
each other, we all cared for each other. I think they need to get
back to that, because the talent is there, but everybody seems like
they're going their separate ways."

Rodriguez was booed by fans at times last season, and Strawberry
said A-Rod has been treated like "an outsider."

"He's a sensitive guy," Strawberry said. "He's only played in
Seattle and Texas. It's not New York. It's a big difference. You
don't get booed in Texas. You don't get booed in Seattle when you
play there."

Jeter, the Yankees' captain, has been cool toward A-Rod since a
2001 Esquire article.

"Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him," Rodriguez
was quoted as saying in the magazine. "He's never had to lead. He
can just go and play and have fun. And he hits second -- that's
totally different than third and fourth in a lineup. You go into
New York, you wanna stop Bernie [Williams] and [Paul] O'Neill. You
never say, 'Don't let Derek beat you.' He's never your concern."

Rodriguez has struggled in the postseason with the Yankees. He
is 4-for-41 (.098) without an RBI in his last 12 postseason games
dating to 2004 and was dropped to eighth in the batting order for
the first time in a decade as the Yankees were eliminated in Game 4
of the first round against Detroit this year.

At the World Series to accept an award, Jeter was asked whether
there was anything he could do to make things easier for Rodriguez.

"What would you like me to do? I'm trying to think," Jeter
said. "Well, you're there. You support him. Everyone supports all
your teammates at all times. I don't really know if there's
anything else I can do. Maybe I'm not that smart."

Strawberry said for Rodriguez to gain acceptance in the Yankees'
clubhouse, Jeter must take the lead.

"I hope Jeter would embrace him this year, in spring training,
and bring him into the full circle as a part of the Yankee
family," Strawberry said. "If Jeter does it, I think everybody
else will respond. I hope that works out for him, because once upon
a time, they were best of friends and some things happened, which
is life. And hopefully they will put those things behind them and
hopefully they can come together."

Strawberry said the pair must take it upon themselves to right
the Yankees, who despite nine straight AL East titles have not won
the World Series since 2000.

"Both of them are leaders and they need to come together as
leaders and bring that Yankee team back up to par, because the last
few years they've been nowhere in sight," Strawberry said. "It's
not about just getting in the first round. When you have talent
like that, it's about winning."

While Jeter has won four World Series titles and six AL
pennants, Rodriguez has never been to the World Series. Jeter has a
.314 average in the postseason, leading in career hits (150) and
tying for third in RBI (48) and fifth in homers (17).

Still, Strawberry said Rodriguez is a two-time AL MVP who has
put up impressive regular-season statistics in three seasons with
the Yankees.

"OK, so what, he hasn't hit well in the playoffs yet,"
Strawberry said. "How many years did it take Barry Bonds before he
clicked in the playoffs? Think about it. I know he hasn't performed
like Jeter has in the playoffs. Jeter's a different breed. There's
ice water in his veins. There ain't no pressure on him. He knows
he's been there and done that. I just hope they work it out."