Forum Spin Doctor
ST. LOUIS - Derek Jeter reiterated his familiar line about Alex Rodriguez on Wednesday, saying he expected the Yankees' embattled third baseman to return next year and maintaining that there isn't much he can do to help Rodriguez get more comfortable in New York.
"What would you like me to do?" Jeter said.
"You're there, you support him. Everyone supports your teammates at all times. I don't know if there's anything else I can do. Maybe I'm not that smart (to think of something else)."
Jeter was in town to receive the Hank Aaron Award, presented to each league's best all-around hitter as voted on by the fans. Ryan Howard was the NL recipient.
After the award ceremony, Jeter, who said he had not seen any of the World Series because he had been traveling in Europe, answered a variety of questions, most of which had to do with either A-Rod or Joe Torre.
Some had to do with both. When asked if he felt there might need to be a meeting to clear the air between Torre and A-Rod, Jeter said, "Clear what air? I haven't heard that there's any air that needs to be cleared."
Trade speculation has loomed over Rodriguez and it figures to remain there all winter, though A-Rod's agent, Scott Boras, told The New York Daily News on Tuesday that he got a phone call from GM Brian Cashman assuring him that Rodriguez wasn't going anywhere.
Still, many observers believe that Rodriguez simply isn't a good fit with the Yankees. Jeter, the Yankee captain, said anyone who thinks there is tension in the clubhouse is mistaken.
"You (reporters) are only in there for a short time," he said. "Everyone tries to assume what's going on in the clubhouse, (but) pretty much when you guys are in the clubhouse (the players are) not around each other anyway.
"There's always assumptions of what's going on, what people think they know, what they think people are doing. They have no idea."
Jeter admitted he expects some changes this winter because moves have been made every year that the Yankees have not won the World Series.
He also said he was surprised by how quickly word spread of Torre's tenuous status after the Yanks were eliminated by the Tigers.
The Daily News reported the day after the elimination that George Steinbrenner was planning to fire Torre and replace him with Lou Piniella; in the subsequent days, Steinbrenner changed his mind and ultimately retained Torre after having several conversations with his advisers. It's believed that Jeter reached out to Steinbrenner to support Torre though Jeter refused to comment on that Wednesday.
"You don't have to lobby on behalf of Mr. T," he said. "If I were to ever have any conversations with anyone, I'd keep them between me and whoever I was speaking with."
Torre, in a TV interview, said Wednesday that he was pleased that Steinbrenner didn't make an on-the-spot decision.
"George Steinbrenner expects, for his money, to get better results than we gave him," Torre said.
"And it's certainly understandable, but I'm just happy he let the smoke clear . . . before he decided to make a decision, because you basically have to do that, because of the emotion involved."
Torre also added that he doesn't see the Yanks moving Rodriguez, who won the AL MVP award in 2005 but had an erratic 2006 season and has been criticized for struggling in the last two postseasons.
"He is going to stay," Torre said.
"First of all, he has got a no-trade clause in his contract. But we are not interested in moving somebody as talented as he is."
Both Jeter and Torre were also asked Wednesday about Kenny Rogers, the Tigers' pitcher who was seen having a brown smudge on his pitching hand in Game 2 of the World Series.
Video footage showed he had a similar spot during his outing against the Yankees in the first round.
So did the Yankees have any concerns about Rogers doctoring the ball after they were shut out by him over 71/3 innings?
"No, none at all," Jeter said. "I don't think that had anything to do with it.
"You can take a pine tar rag and put it behind the mound (and) you still have to throw the ball over the plate. It doesn't matter."