“The reality is there’s been a change in the relationship over 14 years and, hopefully, we can just put it behind us,” he went on. “You go from sleeping over at somebody’s house five days a week, and now you don’t sleep over. It’s just not that big of a deal.” Jeter had left the clubhouse by the time reporters were allowed back in. His agent, Casey Close, later said Jeter didn’t want to comment. Most of the Yankees have long concluded the relationship between their captain and Rodriguez is a non-issue. “They’re probably not as tight as they used to be, but it’s not a situation where they don’t look at each other and don’t say, `Hi.’ They’re teammates and they’re still friends,” Jason Giambi said. “I suspect it’s nowhere near as bad as the general perception is,” general manager Brian Cashman added. During the off-season, former Yankee Darryl Strawberry said Jeter needs to “embrace” Rodriguez, who said he didn’t feel Jeter needed to support him more. “I’m a big boy. I’m 31 years old now, so I should be able to help myself out there,” he said. “I care about what he thinks about me on the field. I think it’s important for us to be on the right page. And we are. We’re here to win a championship together.” Rodriguez is entering the seventh season of his 10-year, $252 million contract, a deal he signed with the Texas Rangers. He can terminate the agreement after the season, forfeit the $72 million owed in the final three years and become a free agent. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “People start assuming that things are a lot worse than what they are, which they’re not. But they’re obviously not as great as they used to be. We were like blood brothers,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t have to go to dinner with a guy four, five times a week to do what you’re doing. It’s actually much better than all you guys expect, but I just want to let the truth be known.” On the first day of his fourth season with the Yankees, he did three rounds of interviews – English-language television, Spanish-language television and print reporters. He talked about his poor postseason (“I stunk”), his pride at being the highest-paid player in U.S. team sports (“It’s pretty cool”) and his refusal to rule out exercising the opt-out provision in his contract after this season (“I understand my options”). Rodriguez and Jeter were good friends back in the 1990s, when Rodriguez was a young star shortstop in Seattle and Jeter emerged as a force that helped the Yankees win four World Series titles in five years. But Rodriguez dissed Jeter in a 2001 Esquire article by saying “Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him” and “he’s never had to lead.” “You go into New York, you wanna stop Bernie (Williams) and (Paul) O’Neill,” he was quoted as saying. “You never say, `Don’t let Derek beat you.’ He’s never your concern.” Since Rodriguez was acquired by the Yankees in 2004, their relationship has been analyzed and dissected, a soap-opera sidebar to New York’s postseason failures. Until now, Rodriguez had denied their relationship had changed. He said it was “important” that people heard the truth directly from him. “Let’s make a contract,” Rodriguez said after the first Jeter question. “You don’t ask me about Derek anymore, and I promise I’ll stop lying to all you guys.” TAMPA, Fla. – Yes, it’s true, admitted Alex Rodriguez. His relationship with Derek Jeter is not what it once was. Rodriguez, surrounded by reporters and cameras as he sat in the first-base dugout Monday at Legends Field, played true confessions in acknowledging they no longer have sleepovers and don’t go out together all the time anymore.