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Tuesday, March 6
A-Rod: All's well between him and Jeter

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Case closed: Alex Rodriguez says he and Derek Jeter spoke by phone and smoothed out any misunderstandings.

"It's very much clear, it came and it left," Rodriguez said Saturday of his talk the night before. "Between him and I is what I'm worried about. The air is clear and we had a good conversation."

The two All-Star shortstops have been friends for years. But twice in recent months Rodriguez made what appear to be unfavorable remarks about Jeter.

Jeter said Saturday he was more confused than upset by the latest flap. He said from Tampa the two of them sorted things out.

"I gave him the benefit of the doubt," he said. "Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with him and now it's over with. If he wants to get into what we talked about it, then that's up to him. I'll just leave it alone."

On Friday, he said he would stop discussing the subject and called Jeter "the best player in the game."

Soon after he signed a $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas that is the largest in sports history, Rodriguez said the salary figure would be hard to top.

"Even a guy like Derek, it's going to be hard for him to break that because he just doesn't do the power numbers and defensively he doesn't do all those things," A-Rod said in December.

Then there are Rodriguez's comments in the April edition of Esquire.

"He's never had to lead," Rodriguez was quoted as saying in the magazine. "He can just go and play and have fun. He hits second – that's totally different than third or 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 us.' He's never your concern," he said.

"Yeah, the Mets probably weren't worried about him (in the World Series), either," Yankees reliever Mike Stanton said.

Rodriguez insists those comments in the magazine were taken out of context from a 90-minute interview in December.

"How can I ever dog Derek Jeter? It's impossible," Rodriguez said. "There is nothing to knock. He's a great defensive player. He's a great offensive player. He's one of the top three players in the game for the greatest team of my era.

"It's my mistake because I said it. It's not the journalist's fault," he said. "It's been my fault for just talking the game and being too general. I guess you have to be very specific."

Jeter, who already has won four World Series championship rings at 26, recently received a $189 million, 10-year contract from the Yankees, the second-largest deal in sports history.

Jeter was the MVP of last year's World Series win over the New York Mets and last summer's All-Star Game. He's a career .342 hitter in the Series.

"He's one of our leaders in the clubhouse. There's no doubt about it," Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams said. "He's definitely one of those guys, in a clutch situation, that would do something."

While unable to say if the comments in the magazine were his exact words, Rodriguez said he was trying to compare his situation to Jeter's. He meant it as a compliment to the Yankees as a whole and not a slam on their shortstop.

"When you come to Texas now, you don't say you have to stop Ivan (Rodriguez), Alex or Raffy (Rafael Palmeiro). You say, let's stop one through nine because everybody can hurt you."

Rodriguez left Seattle as a free agent after the Yankees beat the Mariners in last year's AL Championship Series.

"It's great because our situations mirror each other. All we have to do is go out and play," Rodriguez said. "I don't have to worry about leading Ivan, (Andres) Galarraga or (Ken) Caminiti or Raffy. Those guys all lead themselves. You lead by example, but it's not like leading in Seattle last year."

Jeter, who has slowed by right shoulder stiffness, hasn't thrown or taken batting practice since Tuesday.

"I'm doing groundballs and stuff like that," he said. "It's hard sitting around. This is the time you want to be playing. I don't like to sit around and watch."

Yankees manager Joe Torre said there was no rush to get Jeter in the lineup.

"As long as we're getting progress here, we might as well not feel it at all," he said.

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