Jeter defends A-Rod, attacks critics
Captain 'disappointed' in teammate's actions, but proud of his candor
TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter had a front-row seat as Alex Rodriguez conducted a news conference on Tuesday, during which the third baseman said that a cousin repeatedly injected him with performance-enhancing drugs over a three-year period.
With that admission, Rodriguez's status as the new face of baseball's so-called "Steroid Era" seems to be solidifying in the minds of many.
But one day after Rodriguez's statements echoed from a picnic tent at George M. Steinbrenner Field into coast-to-coast headlines, Jeter bristled at the idea that every big leaguer from that time period should somehow be included along with A-Rod.
"One thing that really upsets me a lot is when you hear everybody say it was the 'Steroid Era' and everybody was doing it. Well, that's not true," Jeter said on Wednesday. "Everybody wasn't doing it.
"That's the thing that gets irritating. I think it sends the wrong message to baseball fans and kids, saying that everybody was doing it. That's just not the truth."
During Rodriguez's 33-minute session, Jeter's expression rarely changed. That held true even as Rodriguez recounted how he had instructed the cousin to import the drugs from the Dominican Republic -- he called it by a street name, "boli," a likely reference to Primobolan -- and repeatedly had it injected into his body.
Jeter said on Wednesday that he was disappointed in Rodriguez's actions, but he said that the continuing thought he had during the news conference was how uncomfortable it must have been for A-Rod to submit himself to public scrutiny in that fashion.
"I know he's very, very sorry," Jeter said. "It's a difficult thing to do. Everybody makes mistakes, but it's probably pretty difficult to have to address it publicly in front of the whole country.
"We're here to support him through it. We don't condone what he did. Alex doesn't condone what he did. At this point now, it's our job to help him be as comfortable as he can on the field and try to move past this."
On the first day of full-squad workouts, Jeter played catch on the field with Rodriguez during warmups. A-Rod also received positive feedback from the fans on hand at Steinbrenner Field, and Jeter said that Rodriguez is not detached from the team.
"When you do some things, eventually the truth comes out, one way or the other," Jeter said. "That's punishment enough, especially when you're talking about everyone knowing it."
Jeter also addressed the status of his relationship with A-Rod once more.
|"One thing that really upsets me a lot is when you hear everybody say it was the 'Steroid Era' and everybody was doing it. Well, that's not true. Everybody wasn't doing it."|
|-- Derek Jeter|
"I've said it time and time again -- we're here to support him through it as a teammate, the same thing as with Andy [Pettitte] last year and with Jason [Giambi] a few years ago," Jeter said. "I get tired of hearing about things with our relationship. That's an old story. Regardless of what I do, people are going to have their opinions, but I get tired of hearing it."
While some have found Rodriguez's version of events told Tuesday to be questionable -- specifically, that he did not know he was taking steroids and was not sure if they helped his performance -- Jeter said that he believes A-Rod's story on its face.
"I think I've always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt," Jeter said. "He came out and spoke about it. I'm sure he shared some details he really didn't need to share with people. I would assume he said more than most people thought he would."
To some degree, the issue will likely follow the Yankees through Spring Training and into the regular season. Jeter said that as the team's captain, he would do whatever necessary to deflect some of the attention to actual baseball.
"I don't know if Alex is going to address it again; I won't," Jeter said. "As long as you're not constantly talking about something, I don't see how it can be a distraction.
"Is it going to be difficult for him, a distraction for him? I'm sure it will be. You're going to go to different places and hear it from the fans -- every game is not at Yankee Stadium. I'm sure he's going to be reminded about it."
Jeter said that he believes the current version of Major League Baseball's testing program works well right now, and he stated he has never used or considered using performance-enhancing drugs of any kind.
His father, Dr. Charles Jeter, was a drug and alcohol abuse counselor growing up, and Jeter said he -- like Mark Teixeira noted on Tuesday -- would have been in for severe punishment at home if he was found to have been taking drugs.
Despite those divergent paths, Jeter said he is able to respect A-Rod and his accomplishments.
"Yeah, because he said it's in the past," Jeter said. "That's all happened before he came to our team. You have respect for him as a player.
"Even when you have family members that make mistakes and do things wrong, you may be disappointed, but you don't lose respect for them and stop pulling for them."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.