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YANKEES Owner's criticism has Jeter fuming

Published: Mon, February 17, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.

The New York owner questioned his shortstop's work ethic after the Yanks were ousted by the Angels.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Nothing bothers Derek Jeter as much as losing. The decision by George Steinbrenner to question his work ethic seems to have come close.

"I went out to the Super Bowl -- I got people on the street asking me the same thing: 'What's the deal with the Boss and the Boss' comments?' " the shortstop said Thursday at the Yankees' minor league complex.

"This story is not just New York. This story has developed into a national story."

Steinbrenner questioned the focus of the five-time All-Star in December, and the owner's comments have festered like an open wound on Jeter over the past 71/2 weeks.

The Yankees were still talking about it as they took the field for the first time since October's first-round failure against Anaheim.

On his agenda

Jeter is bothered Steinbrenner questioned his focus and intends to address the issue further on Monday, the day before full-squad workouts begin.

Jeter, who has helped New York to four World Series titles in seven full seasons, already spoke with Steinbrenner.

"In my mind, it's over," Jeter said.

But the Yankees attract international attention these days, and with no games to play, any hint of controversy sparks blaring headlines, such as the "PARTY ON" blared on the back page of the Daily News in New York when Jeter said he didn't intend to change.

"Derek's comments were directed more to people who write headlines in the media than our front office," was the interpretation of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Still, Yankees manager Joe Torre is a little concerned.

"We'll talk," he said. "Obviously, there have been things going on, and you want to make sure his head is in the right place."

Jeter, of course, wasn't Steinbrenner's only target following the 3-1 loss to the Angels, which ended a run of four straight AL pennants. The owner said Torre and his staff must do better, too.

"At least I'm not going down myself," Jeter joked.


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