Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, left, listens to Hall of...

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, left, listens to Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson during a spring training game against the Atlanta Braves. (March 10, 2012) Credit: AP

Reggie Jackson emphatically made the point earlier in the week that he hadn't been banned or suspended.

On Thursday, he wanted to deliver another message: I'm sorry.

"In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players,'' Jackson said Thursday in a statement released by the Yankees. "This was inappropriate and unfair to those players, some of which are very close friends of mine. I think there are ways to speak from the heart without hurting people, and I'm disappointed that I didn't take greater care in expressing my views.''

Jackson made critical remarks, published in this week's Sports Illustrated, about a number of players who had admitted to using PEDs, including current Yankees Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

"I think there are real questions about his numbers,'' Jackson said of A-Rod.

In the SI piece, Jackson also provided a list of fellow Hall of Famers he deemed unworthy of induction, including Gary Carter, who recently passed away.

The comments became public last Thursday on the eve of the Yankees' four-game series against the Red Sox and caused an immediate firestorm, which included the club telling Jackson to stay away from the team for a period of time. The Yankees didn't want the distraction of Jackson, on the payroll as a special adviser, being in the clubhouse for last weekend's series at Fenway Park, but all indications are the 66-year-old will be back sooner rather than later.

"He isn't banned, so whenever,'' general manager Brian Cashman said in an email Tuesday when asked about when Jackson, in uniform about 70 games a year, might return.

With Jackson living in California, a probable spot for his return is Oakland, where the Yankees start a seven-game trip Thursday.

"I still have a great relationship with the Yankees which I appreciate very much,'' Jackson said to a small group of reporters Monday night after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Kauffman Stadium before the Home Run Derby. "I look forward to getting back and doing my job very soon.''

In his statement, Jackson was more contrite.

"I have been proactively reaching out to make personal apologies to those within the Hall of Fame community that I offended, and to the Yankees organization for any disruption that I caused in the clubhouse,'' he said. "I continue to have a strong relationship with the club and look forward to continuing in my role with the team. As always, I remain dedicated to the great game of baseball.''

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