Dodgers manager Joe Torre, left, greets Yankee second baseman Robinson...

Dodgers manager Joe Torre, left, greets Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano before a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. (June 25, 2010) Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES - Alex Rodriguez avoided answering all Joe Torre-related questions Wednesday in Phoenix.

On Friday night, he avoided Torre altogether. That, however, was a two-way street, as Torre didn't go out of his way to say hello to A-Rod, either.

When asked well before either team came out for batting practice if he'd shake A-Rod's hand, Torre said, "I don't think there's anything that should keep us from doing that."

But the pair, whose relationship took a bad turn when Torre batted the slugger eighth in Game 4 of the 2006 Division Series and got worse with the publication of Torre's 2009 book "The Yankee Years," turned out to be two ships passing in the night. They were close at one point but never did connect.

Torre wasn't lacking for people to greet, starting with Joe Girardi, who popped out of the dugout at 5:25 p.m. local time and hugged Torre behind the batting cage. As they talked, they posed for the slew of photographers present as if they were a couple arriving at a red-carpet event.

Girardi then moved on and hugged Dodgers batting coach Don Mattingly while Torre walked over to Mariano Rivera, extending his right arm at an angle as if he were making a call to the bullpen. The pair laughed and embraced and chatted for several minutes before Jorge Posada broke up the discussion, giving Torre a bear hug. As he did, Rivera sought out Mattingly and hugged him.

As the Yankees began stretching in the area outside their dugout, Torre spoke with third-base coach Rob Thomson and first-base coach Mick Kelleher. Andy Pettitte broke from his stretch to shake Torre's hand and give him a hug, as did Robinson Cano.

Cano hit .297 in 2005, .342 in 2006 and .306 in 2007, Torre's final year. Needless to say, Cano's 2010 season - he entered Friday's game hitting .362 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs - hasn't surprised Torre. "I thought so, and I know Donnie did," Torre said. "On that back field there at Steinbrenner Field, when he hit a ball, it didn't come down. You can't teach that."

Torre also is impressed with how Cano dealt with some of the early failure he experienced in his career. "He just didn't get uptight, didn't tense up and seemed to enjoy himself to the point where people thought he didn't care," Torre said. "But this kid's confident, and abilitywise, he could do some things other people couldn't do."

Derek Jeter, who spoke to Torre by phone Wednesday, was one of the last players to come out of the dugout and immediately found Torre, causing another photographers' scrum.

Speaking to reporters about 45 minutes earlier, Jeter said he understood a comment Torre made Thursday - that it would be weird, but that the manager would be pulling against players he spent much of his career rooting for.

"I don't care if you put my parents in the other dugout, I'm going to try to beat them, that's the bottom line," Jeter said. "I'll always have the utmost respect for him, but playing against him, I'm trying to win."

As the two talked and posed for pictures, A-Rod stood, back turned, not more than 10 yards away. Jeter rejoined his team to stretch - and Torre, apparently with no one left to greet, turned and walked away.

A.J. seeks rebound. When A.J. Burnett starts Saturday, he'll be trying to break out of a horrible slump. He has lost his last four starts, allowing 23 runs (all earned), 29 hits (including nine home runs), 11 walks and three hit batsmen in 20 innings.

Burnett allowed three homers and five runs in the first inning against Arizona on Monday after getting the first two batters. But he said he subsequently had an excellent bullpen session, throwing it with pitching coach Mike Harkey, bench coach Tony Peña and Girardi watching.

"Just getting ideas from everybody," Burnett said. "There's a reason things are going on and it's good to hear different views from everybody."

Posada said there might have been an issue with Burnett tipping his pitches. "We looked at all that, too," Burnett said. "The only tip I can say is that my front side comes open so fast, maybe they can see what I'm throwing. So we're really working on staying closed. If I swing out of it too quick, I'm sure you can pick up the ball pretty easily."

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