Yankees tell Reggie Jackson to stay away from team

New York Yankees Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson watches a

New York Yankees Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson watches a spring training baseball game in Kissimmee, Fla. (March 10, 2012)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Reggie Jackson has been called out.

By the Yankees.

The Hall of Famer created a firestorm last week with critical comments about Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and a handful of Hall inductees, and the club recently told him to stay away from the team.

"This is not punitive," a team official said Monday of Jackson, who is on the club's payroll as a special adviser. "This is strictly to limit distractions we don't need."

The official added: "People in the clubhouse don't want to see him right now."

Jackson, however, said Monday night at Kauffman Stadium that the decision for him not to make the team's most recent trip to Boston was arrived at jointly.

"It was just a mutual thing where it was best," he said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Home Run Derby. "The clubhouse is small, it's a very small place and all the media was there, and I didn't want to be a disruption."

Though no team official used the word "mutual," two of them did stress that the ban is not permanent, with one saying Jackson was told to "stay away until this calms down."

When asked if a date of return has been determined, Jackson replied "no" but said his understanding from the Yankees is "they talked about coming back soon."

He added: "[I'm] not banned, I'm not suspended, I still have a great relationship with the Yankees, which I appreciate very much . . . I look forward to getting back and doing my job very soon."

Jackson clearly wanted to say more -- he twice made his way back to reporters after being whisked away -- but eventually was pulled into an elevator.

In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001-03, and in last week's issue of Sports Illustrated, Jackson, 66, said, "I think there are real questions about his numbers."

As for Pettitte, who has said he used HGH, Jackson said that although he believes the lefthander will get into the Hall of Fame, many members won't attend the ceremony.

Would he attend?

"He's an awfully good friend,'' Jackson told the magazine. "I've known Andy since he was 20. I'll leave it there.''

In the SI piece, Jackson also rattled off names of those in the Hall whom he believes are undeserving of the honor, including the recently deceased Gary Carter.

"I didn't see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer,'' he said. "I didn't see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I'm not so sure he's a Hall of Famer.''

Jackson's comments became public last Thursday, and on Friday, sources said he already had reached out to many of those he discussed -- both inside and outside the organization -- to apologize.

Before Friday's game against the Red Sox, Rodriguez said Jackson had called him, but he wouldn't disclose specifics of the talk.

A-Rod did tell reporters, with a smile, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

The Yankees did not discourage Jackson from attending the All-Star festivities in his role as an ambassador for baseball.

"He asked and we told him to go, absolutely," one official said.

Added another Yankees official: "He's still Mr. Yankee, he's still Mr. October. And he's still Mr. Big Mouth . . . You hear the saying 'Manny being Manny.' This is 'Reggie being Reggie.' "

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