If Bobby Valentine was trying to stir the pot last night — talking about whether Derek Jeter practiced the flip play, and how Jason Varitek “beat up” Alex Rodriguez — it certainly worked. Yes, the pot was stirred, but the Yankees didn’t see to care. Both Jeter and Rodriguez laughed about it.
“I’m indifferent,” Jeter said. “I mean, think about it. We don’t practice it? We do. You guys have seen it, so what else can I say? I was out of position? No, I was where I was supposed to be. Talking about Varitek, point out the good things he’s done. Unbelievable career. I’m happy for him. I enjoyed competing against him all these years. That’s what we should be talking about.”
It’s true, the Yankees absolutely practice the flip play. “I don’t flip it,” Jeter said, but the Yankees practice their positioning for that ball hit into the right-field corner with a runner at first, and Jeter is always drifting to the middle of the first-base line. Valentine said he thought Jeremy Giambi would have been out without Jeter making the flip. I disagree, and so does Jeter.
“No,” Jeter said, “but who cares? They must be bored over there, huh?”
Jeter spoke for about five minutes, mostly laughing and shrugging his shoulders. He defused the situtation as well as humanly possible. Rodriguez seemed most interested in staying as far from the story as possible.
“I’m not going to win many battles when it comes to words, especially against Bobby,” Rodriguez said. “But I will tell you this: I’ve got my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple of days, Reggie Jackson, so I’ll let him handle that.”
• Of all people, on this of all days, Terry Francona was in the Yankees clubhouse this morning. He’s here with ESPN and said every manager has his own style when it comes to things like this. However, he did praise Jeter for the flip play. “You could practice that play until you’re blue in the fact, and he’s still probably the only guy who makes the play,” Francona said.
• Jeter smiled when he saw Francona standing in the clubhouse this morning. “Every player I’ve ever talked to about him appreciated the way he managed,” Jeter said.
• Today’s participants in bunting drills: Doug Bernier, Chris Dickerson, Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez. Wonder when Mark Teixeira will take his turn…
• Tomorrow is a short day for the Yankees because they have their team-bonding event after the morning workout. They’re reporting to camp an hour earlier than usual, and eight pitchers are throwing early batting practice: Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Boone Logan, Michael Pineda, Clay Rapada, CC Sabathia and Cory Wade.
• Ivan Nova will throw an early side tomorrow, his final tuneup before the Grapefruit League opener. D.J. Mitchell also has a side tomorrow, which suggests he’ll be pitching after Nova on Saturday.
• Kyle Higashioka said his shoulder feels better, and he would probably play if this were the regular season. He doesn’t seem particularly concerned.
• Andy Pettitte is scheduled to throw batting practice again today. Looks like he might be on the main field this time.
• Today’s batting practice pitchers were all schedule for early BP. Adam Miller and Michael O’Conner faced Colin Curtis and Cole Garner. Cesar Cabral, Ryan Pope and Chase Whitley faced Melky Mesa and Corban Joseph.
• Today’s batting practice groups are only slightly different from the past few days. Basically, Doug Bernier switched groups.
David Adams, Derek Jeter, Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez
Eric Chavez, Ramiro Pena, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
Russell Branyan, Bill Hall, Jayson Niz, Jorge Vazquez
Francisco Cervelli, Jose Gil, Gary Sanchez
Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Nick Swisher
Chris Dickerson, Justin Maxwell, Cole Garner, Dewayne Wise
Zoilo Almonte, Colin Curtis, Melky Mesa, Corban Joseph
Doug Bernier, Russell Martin, J.R. Murphy, Gustavo Molina
• Same fielding groups, with Cano and Romine again still listed:
C: Kyle Higashioka, Russell Martin, Gustavo Molina, J.R. Murphy
INF: Russell Branyan, Robinson Cano, Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Derek Jeter, Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez
OF: Zoilo Almonte, Colin Curtis, Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Justin Maxwell
C: Francisco Cervelli, Jose Gil, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez
INF: David Adams, Doug Bernier, Corban Joseph, Jayson Nix, Ramiro Pena, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Vazquez
OF: Chris Dickerson, Brett Gardner, Cole Garner, Melky Mesa, Nick Swisher, Dewayne Wise
Associated Press photo