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."