Valentine discounts Jeter flip, disses A-Rod

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, left, is pushed

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, left, is pushed by Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, right, after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch from Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo in the third inning. (Credit: AP, 2004)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Everyone expected Bobby Valentine to add some spice to baseball's best rivalry and the new Red Sox manager hasn't disappointed.

On Tuesday he had something to say about the Yankees' biggest stars: Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

First, the shortstop and his famous "flip play" in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the A's.

As part of their drills for the day in Fort Myers, the Red Sox worked on cutoffs and relays, and Valentine was asked about Jeter's backhanded flip to Jorge Posada that nipped the non-sliding Jeremy Giambi at the plate.

"We'll never practice that, we'll never practice that," Valentine said, according to The Boston Globe. "I think [Jeter] was out of position. I think the ball gets him out if [Jeter] doesn't touch it, personally."

Replays show Posada likely would have had to move to secure Shane Spencer's throw, which cleared two cutoff men -- second baseman Alfonso Soriano and first baseman Tino Martinez. Posada's swipe tag barely beat Giambi to the plate and the Yankees went on to win, 1-0.

"The Jeter-like simulation today is that idea of what the first baseman and third baseman do as the ball is coming in, because they have to react and maybe change the position of where the shortstop is when the ball's coming in from right," Valentine said. "Because he does have to react to the ball. When you see a ball in flight, you have a chance at those positions to adjust . . . That was amazing that [Jeter] was there. I bet it's more amazing to say they practiced it. I don't believe it."

But then-Yankees manager Joe Torre has said through the years his infielders did practice plays like that during spring training, and in fact said as much immediately after Game 3 in Oakland.

"You come to spring training and watch us," Torre said then. "That's one of the plays he [Jeter] has to read. He's the backup cutoff man. We overthrew the first cutoff man and he was there and made a sensational play."

Before Valentine discussed Jeter, he invoked Rodriguez, though in the context of praising longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who will announce his retirement Thursday.

A-Rod and Varitek, of course, always will be linked because of the events of July 24, 2004. That was the day at Fenway Park when Rodriguez took exception to being hit by a Bronson Arroyo pitch and Varitek responded by yelling at the third baseman, then planting his catcher's mitt into his face.

"He was everything you want a guy who wears a 'C' to be," Valentine said, according to ESPN Boston. "He was a man's man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff."

Valentine paused.

"He was able to beat up Alex, all that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be."

Just what Valentine has been to this point in the rivalry.

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