Yankees react to Bobby Valentine

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Yankees are already reacting to Bobby Valentine.

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez both commented today from Yankees’ camp in Tampa on things Valentine said yesterday.

Valentine, who put his players through relay drills on Tuesday, said yesterday that there was no way the Yankees practiced Jeter’s infamous flip play vs. Oakland in Game 3 of the 2001 Division Series.

Speaking about Jason Varitek’s career yesterday, Valentine made a funny comment about “beating up” Rodriguez as one of his accomplishments.

On the famous flip play, Jeter ended up on the first-base line and fielded a throw from Shane Spencer in right field that missed two cutoff men. He then backhanded the ball to Jorge Posada, who tagged out Jeremy Giambi to end the seventh inning in a game the Yankees won, 1-0.

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“We’ll never practice that. We’ll never practice that,’’ Valentine said. “I think (Jeter) was out of position. I think the ball gets him out if (Jeter) doesn’t touch it, personally.

“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. 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.’’

Jeter responded this morning by telling reporters in Tampa, “I mean, we do [practice it]. You’ve seen it. You guys have been here.”

Would Giambi have been out anyway?

“What do you want me to say?” said Jeter. “I mean, really. What am I supposed to say? I don’t think anything. I really don’t. I have no thoughts whatsoever about that.”

Would he have been out?

“No. But who cares? Why are we talking about this? He must be bored over there, huh? I don’t understand.”

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Still, practice it?

“Yeah. I don’t flip it home when we practice it. I’m the cutoff guy. He’s the cutoff guy to get the runner at third. We do practice it, but not the flip home. Am I supposed to convince him (Valentine)?

I don’t know Bobby well enough to tell you what he’s trying to do. I could care less, I guess that’s the best way to put it. I just don’t know why it’s being brought up. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Was Jeter amused or annoyed by Valentine’s comments?

“I’m indifferent, really,” said Jeter. “Think about it. We don’t practice it? We do. You guys see it. What else can I say? I was out of position? I was where I was supposed to be.”

On other topics, Jeter said the retiring Varitek had “an unbelievable career.”

“I’m happy for him,” said Jeter. “I enjoyed competing against him all these years. That’s what we should be talking about as opposed to what Bobby said.”

Does Jeter think the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is diminished and Valentine is trying to stir it up?

“No. It’s the same,” he said. “I can’t tell you if he’s trying to stir it up. I don’t know why you would have to stir it up. I think our rivalry gets so much attention anyway. But I am not saying that he’s stirring it up, so no headlines tomorrow.”

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What will you say first time you see him?

“Hey Bobby! That’s about it,” said Jeter. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, really. A lot of people have said that I wasn’t supposed to be there, but I’ve told you from day one that’s where I’m supposed to be; that’s what we work on. He’s not the first person that said that.”

Whose idea was it to do it that way?

“(Don Zimmer) Zim or Mr. T; since I’ve come up, we’ve done it the same way,” said Jeter. We might be doing something like that in the next couple days, so I invite all you guys out there to see that I’m in the same spot every time.”

Was it strange seeing Terry Francona (with ESPN) in the clubhouse at Yankees camp?

“Yeah,” said Jeter. “I’ve always respected Terry. I’ve enjoyed playing against him, getting to know him throughout the years. I have a lot of respect for him and how he manages. Every player that I’ve ever talked to about him appreciated the way he managed and the way he dealt with players. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him.

“It’s good to see him. It goes without saying how great he did in Boston, so I’m happy to see him.”

Rodriguez, commenting on Valentine’s “beat up” comments said, “I’m not going to win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby. I have my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days — Reggie Jackson — so I’ll let him handle that.”