Reports: A-Rod unfazed; Torre speaks

Updated: January 28, 2009, 11:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

What has been written about Alex Rodriguez in an upcoming book doesn't bother the New York Yankees third baseman at all, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.

A-Rod, reportedly dismissed as "A-Fraud" in "The Yankee Years", co-authored by Joe Torre, his former manager, and Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci, has told friends that he's "not bothered at all" by reports that Torre took shots at him in the book, or that it details the difficulty he had fitting in as a Yankee and sharing the spotlight with Derek Jeter.

Torre, in an interview posted Tuesday on The New York Times Web site, said: "I don't think I said anything about A-Rod that I didn't say already."

Torre is the co-author of the book, but it contains both his thoughts and independent reporting, according to Verducci. Torre told the Times that "knowing that my name is on it, I know I'm going to have to answer for it."

He later told the Times: "I'm comfortable with what I contributed to the book, even though I'm probably going to get more credit or more blame than I deserve, whichever way you want to look at it."

A person close to Rodriguez told the Daily News that Rodriguez wasn't concerned with how he is portrayed in the book, set to be released Feb. 3.

"He laughed at the stuff because he is so beyond all of that," the person said, according to the report. "Personally he feels like he's in a great space in his life and felt very comfortable last year in the clubhouse and with his relationship with his teammates."

According to the report, a person close to Rodriguez said A-Rod "doesn't feel like he had any real relationship with [Torre]," and thus isn't hurt by anything Torre might have said or written about him in "The Yankee Years."

"Back in 2004, at first Rodriguez did his best to try and fit into the Yankee culture -- his cloying, B Grade actor best," the book says, according to an excerpt obtained by 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand. "He slathered on the polish. People in the clubhouse, including teammates and support personnel, were calling him 'A-Fraud' behind his back."

The excerpt continues: "'He was phony,' said Mike Borzello, the former Yankees bullpen coach and one of Rodriguez' close friends, 'and he knew he was phony. But he didn't know how to be anything else at that time. Then he started to realize what it is all about and what people feed off of, and thought, 'Hey, I can really be myself.'"

Seven pages later, in the same chapter, the book says, according to the excerpt obtained by Marchand: "In his own way, Rodriguez was fascinated with Jeter, as if trying to figure out what it was about Jeter that could have bought him so much goodwill. The inside joke in the clubhouse was that Rodriguez' pre-occupation with Jeter recalled the 1992 film, 'Single White Female,' in which a woman becomes obsessed with her roommate to the point of dressing like her."

While Rodriguez cared more about what people said and thought of him when he arrived in New York in 2004, he doesn't worry about it as much anymore, a person close to him told the newspaper.

"He says he got the Jeter stuff out of his system when he had that press conference [at the start of spring training] a couple of years ago," one person said, according to the report. "He came to grips with the idea that Jeter didn't want to be his friend again the way they were years ago, and he stopped worrying about it.

"He's heard the A-Fraud stuff, and he has admitted he tried too hard to make everyone like him when he came over to the Yankees," the person said, according to the report. "But since then he has become more at ease in the clubhouse, and he believes he is more accepted as one of the guys. He has taken the young Latin guys like Melky [Cabrera] and [Robinson] Cano under his wing and they really look up to him. He believes things are a lot different now."

A former teammate with the Yankees agreed with that assessment, according to the Daily News.

"He did come off as a phony when he first came over, and I'm not sure he'll ever be one of the boys, but he did seem to relax and stop being 'on' all the time after the first year or two," the former teammate said, according to the report. "I do think he was different after he went public and said he and Jeter weren't buddies. He seemed more comfortable in the clubhouse after that, and as new players came in, I think more guys warmed up to him."

Furthermore, according to the report, A-Rod told people that he knew where he stood with Torre after Game 4 of the 2006 AL Division Series, in which Torre batted a slumping A-Rod eighth.

"Alex was really hurt by that," one friend of A-Rod's said Monday, according to the report. "He believed that Torre did that to embarrass him and he knew then what Torre thought of him.

"So anything that comes out now wouldn't compare to that," the friend added, according to the Daily News. "He's just surprised that Torre would talk about these kinds of things because he always told the players the clubhouse and the bond with teammates was sacred, and not to be broken this way."

In the interview with the Times, Torre also spoke of his relationship with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Excerpts of the book hint of a rift between the two, especially over Cashman's role in Torre's departure from the Yankees.

"There's stuff in there where, from my angle, I looked at it one way and I'm sure, from his angle, he probably looked at it a different way," Torre told the Times.

But he bristled at the notion that he felt "betrayed" by Cashman. He and Cashman spoke on Sunday after the original newspaper reports of the book surfaced.

"I heard the word betrayed and I knew that it wasn't part of the actual book," Torre said to the Times. "I can tell you this much: I know there's stuff Brian and I disagreed on, and I had one perception and he had another, which, to me, there's nothing wrong with that.

"We're obviously two different people. As far as the betrayed thing, that's the reason I called him. I knew there was no word betrayed in there in regards to feeling that he left me out there somewhere."

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