02/17/2004 7:05 PM ET
It's all good between Jeter, A-Rod
Big Apple definitely big enough for both superstars
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's rank as team captain provided convenient justification for his presence Tuesday as the only player helping welcome Alex Rodriguez to New York.
As proof they are on the same page, the Yankees wanted Jeter and Rodriguez on the same dais.
Rodriguez's accommodating switch to third base and Jeter's incumbency at short, and the once-strained relationship between the two, was the most prevalent undertone of Tuesday's media event in Yankee Stadium.
|Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter pose for photographers during Tuesday's press conference at Yankee Stadium. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
In view of the consecutive Gold Gloves earned by Rodriguez, is baseball's best shortstop now playing third base?
Would Jeter and Rodriguez need a much Bigger Apple to coexist?
Both dismissed any notions of professional jealousy or personal resentment.
"The worst thing for the media would be for Alex and I to get along," Jeter said. "They'd want to see us fighting. But that's not the case.
"Even brothers argue, but remain close. Everyone wants us to not get along, but it's simply not the case."
Rodriguez, who in a magazine interview three years ago questioned Jeter's leadership abilities, essentially saying he had it easy in the
stacked Yankees lineup, said "time" smoothed things between them.
"We've been friends for a long time," A-Rod said. "We have a great history together. And now we have a common goal.
"The coolest thing in the world is being a New York Yankee, and now we have a chance to win consistently."
Asked point-blank who was the Majors' best shortstop, Jeter, in view of Rodriguez now being a third baseman. said with a grin, "Ah, I don't have to answer that question now."
"He's got four world championships as the shortstop here so, to me, that is a non-issue," Rodriguez said. "We're here to win together, and to win big."
"Look, it's hard to argue against anything Alex has done," added Jeter, who inwardly is probably grateful the Yankees never put him on the spot.
Rodriguez was pursued as a third baseman, with the clear understanding Jeter was the shortstop, making the whole thing an organizational decision.
Rodriguez's concession "shows you he wants to win," Jeter said. "He made that decision, and he's happy with it, and looking forward to the challenge of learning a new position.
"He's a great athlete, with a lot of range. That'll make my job easier. It should benefit both of us."
Interestingly enough, this is all taking place across town from where Mike Piazza is campaigning for the games he needs to set a Major League home run record for catchers. Rodriguez moves from shortstop, one homer shy of tying Cal Ripken's record (345) at that position.
"In Texas, I was very aware of that," he said. "In Texas, you needed different motivational tactics, different things to play for. This changes everything completely."
He meant, of course, getting totally immersed in the Yankees' perennial team objective.
"When we get new faces, everyone always talks about egos getting in the way," Jeter said. "Well, I haven't seen that since I've been here.
"As long as we're adding good people. They understand the philosophy."
Rodriguez understands it, and voiced it.
"Derek has four world championships," he said, "and I want him to have ten. I'm here to help him."
Jeter shrugged lightly. "I'm only working on No. 5."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.