Nixon says he was stupid, flying off at the mouth

Updated: February 21, 2005, 10:22 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Trot Nixon got exercise by walking around Disney World. Johnny Damon did push-ups with his wife on his back. David Ortiz spent time as a couch potato, watching over and over the tape of the Red Sox championship season.

Alex Rodriguez
Trot Nixon

Boston's bashing of Alex Rodriguez took on a conciliatory, even comical, tone Monday when clubhouse clowns Damon and Ortiz lightened the mood.

Nixon, who weighed that mood down by criticizing the Yankees third baseman for boasting about his workouts, stood by those comments but said he was "being stupid and flying off at the mouth" when he made them Feb. 15.

Damon had dubbed his own teammates a bunch of "idiots" last season and, on Monday, rattled off one-liners like one about Rodriguez' early-morning training regimen.

"Waking up 6 in the morning?" Damon said after his late-afternoon arrival. "There's been many a nights where I haven't been to bed at 6 in the morning."

Ortiz made it to camp before 9 a.m. on the reporting date for position players, who will have their first official workout Tuesday afternoon.

His new workload could limit his viewing habits that he said kept him in the dark about the verbal shots taken at Rodriguez by six Red Sox players in six days, starting with Nixon's comments.

"I only have one tape at home, the Red Sox one," Ortiz said. "I watch it over and over and over and over and I don't even know what's going on here."

Nixon did some traditional workouts but spent four days last week at Disney World with his sons, aged 3 years and four months.

"We got ready for spring training. You do a lot of walking. You do a lot of standing around there," he said with a smile. "That's spring training."

Nixon had called Rodriguez "a clown" for saying he began working out in the morning while other players were sleeping or taking their children to school. Nixon said he and many other players have long workouts.

Then Red Sox teammates Curt Schilling, David Wells, Jason Varitek, Bronson Arroyo, Keith Foulke and Kevin Millar took swipes at Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said Sunday that "as far as earning your stripes, I really couldn't agree [more] with Trot Nixon and the guys that have said that because hopefully in due time, when I pay the price like Paul O'Neill and Roger Clemens did, then the fans of New York would realize that, hopefully, I'm a Yankee."

Red Sox minority owner Tom Werner said on Monday that statement "was very professional. I think that the story's probably played itself out by now."

Nixon started it when he said Rodriguez was not the "Yankee type."

He appeared at the spring training complex on Monday for the first time since then.

"The biggest thing I was trying to say also was that that's my opinion and my opinion doesn't mean much to anybody," Nixon said.

"It's not a direct attack on him and when they asked me, 'Do I think he's a Yankee?' Well, I mean he's only been there one year so when I think of Yankees I think of the [Jorge] Posadas, the [Derek] Jeters, Bernie Williams, (Mariano) Riveras, those guys," Nixon said, echoing his earlier statements. "Paul O'Neill, even though he's retired. Reggie Jackson."

What about Nixon's statement directed at Rodriguez that "I'm not a deadbeat dad, you clown."

"I've been called a clown before, an idiot. Johnny (Damon) called us all idiots last year," Nixon said. "I'm sure I'll be called a few more things at Yankee Stadium, but that's what makes it fun, though. It was probably built up. I probably shouldn't have said some things but you live and learn. That's what life's all about."

For Damon, life is about having fun.

He showed up Monday with sunglasses atop his long black hair which had blond streaks, and a big, diamond studded wedding band. He and his wife Michelle were married Dec. 30 and vacationed in Jamaica.

"I've been running the hills in Jamaica over the past week. I've been doing a lot of push-ups, with and without Michelle on my back," Damon said as his wife sat nearby. "Some strenuous things, but ... what I like to do is have fun."

He said he spent time on his boat looking for alligators because it was "just something else to do."

When he arrived at spring training last year, he said he had worked out by chasing cars near his home after dark, scaring motorists into thinking he was a caveman with his long hair.

"I didn't get a chance to chase after cars this year because, number one, there weren't as many drunken nights as there were last year," he said.

It's very unlikely that A-Rod's exercises include as many cocktail-glass lifts as Damon's.

"We all know that Rodriguez is a phenomenal athlete," Nixon said. The Yankees "play the game right, but I may have made some bulletin board material for them."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press