BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez came prepared with a barb of his own, responding to Reggie Jackson's recent comments about the Yankees slugger published in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated.
"With friends like that," Rodriguez said, chuckling, "who needs enemies?"
Jackson told SI that he has an issue with players linked to performance-enhancing drugs who have passed his total of 563 on the all-time home runs list, a group that includes Rodriguez, who has admitted to using steroids while with the Rangers from 2001-03.
"Al's a very good friend," Jackson told the magazine. "But I think there are real questions about his numbers. As much as I like him, what he admitted about his usage does cloud some of his records."
Jackson, currently a special advisor to the Yankees' senior managing partners, said that he would not attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for any player believed to have used PEDs, with the possible exception of Andy Pettitte.
Rodriguez said that Jackson reached out to him and explained his comments, though Rodriguez remained tight-lipped on the contents of the conversation.
"I want to keep that between Reggie and I; keep it private," Rodriguez said. "You can ask Reggie the same question. You know where to find him. ... My focus is on playing baseball. Anything that comes in the way of us winning games is white noise."
According to the New York Daily News, Jackson also reached out to Yankees manager Joe Girardi and others to apologize. On Friday night, Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, whom Jackson said didn't belong in Cooperstown, tweeted the following:
"Reggie Jackson called me last night and apologized. Said his statement was taken out of context."
Rodriguez said that "anything that doesn't have to do with winning games is a non-issue," and said that his main concern is the club's current series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He entered play on Friday with 642 career home runs.
"We're really excited and focused on these four games here," Rodriguez said. "Our team has a focus, I have a focus and that's winning games. Anything that gets in our way is not part of that equation."
Joba throws 25 pitches; next step on Sunday
BOSTON -- Joba Chamberlain continues to move forward in his return from injuries and could be lined up to pitch in his first Minor League rehabilitation game early next week.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Chamberlain's session on Friday in Tampa, Fla., was "pretty good." The right-hander faced six batters and struck out three in a 25-pitch outing, and Girardi said that the team is eyeing a rehab outing for Tuesday if Chamberlain's bullpen session on Sunday goes well.
Chamberlain has vowed that he will pitch at the Major League level this season. He is returning from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow as well as an open dislocation of his right ankle, which he suffered this spring.
"You kind of expect he's got to go through somewhat of a Spring Training," Girardi said. "That's usually a good almost 30 days of games for people, because he has not went through any games yet, and he has not went through games for a while.
"I can't tell you [when Chamberlain will return]. Our needs could change and things could speed up, but he's going to have to get some games under his belt."
The Yankees are planning to have right-hander Cory Wade rejoin the club for Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Red Sox, Girardi confirmed. Wade will be returned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Saturday's second game.
Right-hander David Phelps is scheduled to start on Monday for Double-A Trenton as he continues to build up his pitch count, and he could rejoin the big league club after the All-Star break, though Girardi said that hasn't yet been discussed.
Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is expected to take dry swings this weekend as he hopes to return from a strained right elbow. Gardner has twice been close to returning from the disabled list, only to suffer setbacks. He has played in just nine games this year.
On this date in 1933, Babe Ruth hit the first home run in an All-Star Game, a two-run shot off the Cardinals' Bill Hallahan. The AL won, 4-2, at Chicago's Comiskey Park. The Yankees' Lefty Gomez threw three scoreless innings for the win.