The Baseball Hall of Famer, 48, said that he lost “trust” in the former Texas Rangers player, 46, when he talked about Jeter in a 2001 interview with Esquire. “Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very, very loyal,” the ESPY Award winner explained in his upcoming docuseries, The Captain. “As a friend, I’m loyal. I just looked at it as, ‘I wouldn’t have done it.’”
Rodriguez was not yet a member of the New York Yankees, but there was much discussion at the time about which shortstop was the better player. In the interview, the New York City native said there was “not a rivalry” between him and Jeter, but his next comments were the ones that caused tension.
“Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him. So, he’s never had to lead,” Rodriguez told the Esquire reporter. “He doesn’t have to, he can just go and play and have fun, and hit second. I mean, you know, hitting second is totally different than hitting third or fourth in a lineup because you go into New York trying to stop Bernie [Williams] and [Paul] O’Neill and everybody. You never say, ‘Don’t let Derek beat you.’ That’s never your concern.”
The baseball commentator later apologized for the remarks, but Jeter seemingly still sees the incident as a turning point in the pair’s relationship.
“In my mind, he got his contract, so you’re trying to diminish what I’m doing, maybe to justify why you got paid,” he said in the ESPN series, which premieres on Monday, July 18. “When you talk about statistics, mine never compared to Alex’s. I’m not blind. I understand that. But we won! You can say whatever you want about me as a player. That’s fine.”
The New Jersey native added: “But then it goes back to the trust, the loyalty. This is how the guy feels. He’s not a true friend, is how I felt. Because I wouldn’t do it to a friend.”
Rodriguez, for his part, said that he felt guilty about the comments at the time, but he wouldn’t take them back.
“When that came out, I felt really bad about it,” the former Seattle Mariners player explained in The Captain. “I saw the way it was playing out. The way it was written, I absolutely said exactly what I said. It was a comment that I stand behind today. It was a complete tsunami. It was one of the greatest teams ever. To say that you don’t have to focus on just one player is totally fair.”
The Captain premieres on ESPN and ESPN+ Monday, July 18, at 10 p.m. ET.