What Jeter, A-Rod had to say today

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
11:35
AM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- To Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the words of Bobby Valentine are one big shrug of the shoulders.

"I'm indifferent, really," Jeter said on Wednesday in regards to comments Valentine made regarding the famous "flip play" Jeter made at home plate against the Oakland A's in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS that nipped Jeremy Giambi at the plate. "I don't know Bobby well enough to know what he's trying to do. I could care less. I guess that's the best way to put it."

Speaking to reporters in Red Sox camp on Tuesday, Valentine had questioned whether the Yankees really practiced the play, as Jeter has always maintained, and implied that the fabled play, which protected a Yankees 1-0 lead, was in fact a misplay.

Jeter seemed more bemused than annoyed at the assertions.

"We do practice it, but not the flip home," Jeter said. "But who cares? Why are we talking about this? He must be bored over there, huh? I don't understand."

Jeter also invited reporters to come to the field to watch the Yankees practice the play. "A lot of people have said that I wasn't supposed to be there, but I've told you from day one that's where I'm supposed to be, that's what we work on," he said. "He's not the first person that said that. I invite all you guys out there to see that I'm in the same spot every time."

Rodriguez wound up on the end of a Valentine barb when the new Red Sox manager paid tribute to Jason Varitek, who is planning to retire Thursday.

"From afar, he was everything you want a guy who wears a 'C' to be," Valentine said of the longtime Red Sox captain. "He was a man's man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.''

Valentine was referring to a home plate skirmish between Rodriguez and Varitek in July 2004 after A-Rod was drilled with a pitch by Boston's Bronson Arroyo and directed some words toward the pitcher's mound. Varitek stepped between the two and, while still wearing his mask, shoved Rodriguez in the face, igniting a bench-clearing brawl.

Rodriguez at first said he hadn't heard Valentine's comments. When the statement was repeated to Rodriguez, he laughed.

"Like I've said, guys, I'm not gonna win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby," he said. "But I will tell you this, I got my new press secretary that should be landing in couple of days, Reggie Jackson, so I'll let him handle that, all right?"

Then he walked away. Meanwhile, in another part of the clubhouse, Terry Francona, the Red Sox manager Valentine replaced and who is now working as an ESPN baseball analyst, found himself being interviewed about the words of his successor.

"I'm sure some of that's in jest," Francona said. "I don't know. I wasn't there. I'm out of it. To me, it's not important whether the Yankees practice that play or not. The fact of the matter is (Jeter's) good enough to make that play. You can practice that play until you're blue in the face, he's probably the only guy who makes that play. He sees the field better than anybody."

After acknowledging the strangeness of seeing the former manager of a hated rival in the Yankees clubhouse, Jeter said, "I've always respected Terry. I've enjoyed playing against him, getting to know him throughout the years. I have a lot of respect for him and how he manages. Every player that I've ever talked to about him appreciated the way he managed and the way he dealt with players."

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