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Jeter: Relationship With A-Rod A Non-Issue

New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez, left, and Derek Jeter chat just prior to the start of workouts at spring training in Tampa, Fla., in this Feb. 22, 2005 file photo.
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Maintaining they have a fine relationship on the field and in the clubhouse, Derek Jeter resolutely refused to discuss the deterioration of his friendship with Alex Rodriguez away from the ballpark.

One day after A-Rod finally acknowledged the pair no longer are best friends, Jeter sat in the same first-base dugout at Legends Field and was asked to respond.

"I don't have a rift with Alex," the New York Yankees captain said on Tuesday. "We go out there. We work together. This is our fourth year to be playing together. It's annoying to hear about it all the time. Everyone assumes they know what our relationship is. Everyone assumes — they see us on the field, if one person gives another one a look, it's a story. If we're at opposite ends of the bench, people say it's a story."

Shortly after arriving at spring training on Monday, Rodriguez said it was time for him to stop pretending that his relationship with Jeter was as close as it was in the 1990s. The pair have drifted apart since Rodriguez made critical remarks in a 2001 Esquire article.

"I don't see the relevance of it," Jeter said. "It has no bearing on us playing baseball."

Jeter refused to say how close he and Rodriguez are away from the ballpark.

"How would I characterize it? I would characterize it as it doesn't make a difference," he said. "What we do away from the field, how much time we spend together, really makes no difference when we're playing."

Coming up through the Yankees' organization and becoming a key component of the unit that won four World Series titles from 1996-2000, Jeter has worked hard to avoid discussing his private life.

"I understand my job is public, but your personal life is your personal life. Once you open that door, it doesn't stop," he said. "Away from the field, people want to keep tabs on how many times we go out to eat, things like that. That has no bearing on what we're trying to do."

Jeter was criticized by some last year for not voicing sufficient support for Rodriguez, who struggled during the regular season and was booed at Yankee Stadium.

"From Day One I've said I support Alex," he said. "The only thing I'm not going to do is tell the fans what to do. ... I don't think it's my job to tell fans to boo or not to do."

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.