Commentary

Captain's kudos come quickly for A-Rod

On base for Alex Rodriguez's 600th homer, Derek Jeter is first with congratulations

Updated: August 4, 2010, 11:28 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- After Alex Rodriguez rounded all four bases for the 600th time in his major league career, it seemed only fitting that the first person to greet him was Derek Jeter.

The New York Yankees shortstop and third baseman have been linked since they both were high draft picks and top prospects in the early 1990s.

Their relationship has endured some ups and downs along the way. They were good friends early in their careers. But everyone remembers the critical comments Rodriguez made about Jeter in Esquire magazine in 2001, saying, "Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him" and "he's never had to lead."

Their relationship wasn't particularly good even after they became teammates in 2004. But they finally won a World Series together in 2009 and seem to have put their differences behind them.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDerek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez celebrate the 600th home run of A-Rod's career.

So it was no surprise that Jeter welcomed Rodriguez home, literally, with a warm embrace at the plate after the historic home run Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter was on base when Rodriguez hit his 500th career home run exactly three years ago, on Aug. 4, 2007. And he was on base for No. 600 as well, after leading off the inning with a single. But Jeter is always the first Yankee out of the dugout to congratulate a teammate after a home run, so odds are he would have gotten to A-Rod first anyway.

"I'm happy that we on the team were able to watch him achieve it," Jeter said after the game. "And I'm happy that he had a chance to do it at home."

As it turns out, Jeter and Rodriguez had a private chat following Tuesday night's Yankees loss to the Blue Jays, in which A-Rod went 0-for-3, extending his hitless streak to 17 at-bats and his homerless streak to 46 at-bats.

"We had a nice conversation in one of the back rooms," Rodriguez said. "He reminded me of this time last year, [when he was] trying to get the Lou Gehrig [all-time Yankees] hit record. He said, 'Just try to get a base hit. Maybe even bunt.'

"So when I got to home plate, he had a big smile, and he goes, 'Well, there goes the bunting situation.'"

Jeter had a great game Wednesday as well, although that will be lost in the wall-to-wall coverage of Rodriguez's 600th long ball. Jeter was 4-for-4 in the Yankees' 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays, with two doubles, two singles and three runs scored.

Jeter also made some history of his own. He hit his 459th and 460th career doubles, passing Jimmie Foxx and Sam Crawford on the all-time list. And he scored his 1,650th, 1,651st and 1,652nd career runs, passing the great Joe Morgan.

All three of those players are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jeter will be one day, too, as will Rodriguez -- if the stain of his prior performance-enhancing drug use doesn't keep him out.

The focus will soon be on Jeter again. He now has 2,872 career hits and undoubtedly will pass 3,000 next season.

But Wednesday was Rodriguez's day, and Jeter celebrated his teammate graciously.

"It's a special moment," Jeter said. "It's well-deserved."

Kieran Darcy is a staff writer for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
Follow Kieran on Twitter »

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