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Yanks Resigned To Year Without Williams

Manager Joe Torre and the core of Yankees' players that won four World Series titles with Bernie Williams are resigned to the outfielder's absence.

"It will happen to all of us," catcher Jorge Posada said Wednesday.

Williams rejected the Yankees offer of a minor league contract, instead wanting a guarantee of a job when the season starts.

"It's sad," said Torre, who hasn't talked with Williams since late last week, "but not surprising in the fact that I haven't heard back from him."

Across the bay in St. Petersburg, former Yankee coach Don Zimmer gave his opinion on the Derek Jeter-Alex Rodriguez debate, taking the side of the New York Yankees' captain.

Jeter has been criticized by some for not publicly supporting A-Rod more. When he arrived at Yankees' camp this week, Rodriguez said his off-the-field friendship with Jeter had cooled but that they had a good relationship at the ballpark. Jeter wouldn't discuss personal matters but said they were good teammates and rooted for each other.

"They're making (Jeter) out to be the bad guy," Zimmer was quoted as saying by "What has he done wrong? Like I say, if A-Rod hits a home run tomorrow, Jeter will be on the top step, the first guy shaking his hand. What do you want (Jeter) to do, put his arm around him and kiss him?"

Zimmer, now a Devil Rays' senior adviser, was the Yankees' bench coach from 1996-2003. Jeter and Rodriguez drifted apart after A-Rod criticized Jeter in a 2001 Esquire Magazine article

"Is it Jeter's fault he's playing in New York with the Yankees and they win four World Series? You're going to hold that against him towards A-Rod, who has never won nothing?" Zimmer was quoted as saying. "m not trying to bury A-Rod, but people are trying to bury Jeter, I don't understand it. ...

"You take a guy (such as Jeter), who probably in 13 years that I've known him, is probably the best man I've known in those 13 years. He's never changed from '96 to today _ the way he acts. The way he acts on the field. The way he plays. The way he performs, and now, this criticism? It doesn't make sense. It's tough for me to figure it out. I'm just not smart enough to figure that one out. Jeter getting criticized, not being the captain, not being this, not being that."

Williams also was a mainstay of those Yankees' teams.

"It appears he's not coming," Jeter said Wednesday. "It will set in a little bit more as the spring goes on. For selfish reasons, I'm disappointed he's not here.

"I don't want to talk about his career being over yet," Jeter said. "Let him decide if he's done playing before I make comments on his career. It goes without saying what he's meant to the organization."

Notes:@ Yankees owner George Steinbrenner arrived at Legends Field after the workout. The Boss didn't stop to talk with reporters. ... 1B-DH Jason Giambi (offseason wrist surgery) has gone through his first two days of batting practice without any problems. "Everything is good so far," Giambi said. "It didn't hurt at all." ... The projected rotation will throw 30-40 pitches in batting practice Thursday. ... RHP Steven White (neck) threw halfway up the mound and could have a full bullpen session Friday.