© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2003
TAMPA -- For Derek Jeter, the issue is his integrity, and that's what's so galling to him about George Steinbrenner's jabs.
The Yankees shortstop had avoided responding to Steinbrenner's charges that he partied too heartily last season, wasn't focused and wasn't ready to be captain.
Jeter said his priority is protecting his reputation with fans and the youngsters his Turn 2 Foundation helps to live without alcohol or drugs.
"He's the boss, and he's entitled to his opinion, right or wrong, but what he said has been turned into me being this big party animal," Jeter said. "He even made a reference to one birthday party. That's been turned into that I'm like Dennis Rodman now.
"I don't think that's fair. I have no problems with people criticizing how I play. But it bothers me when people question my work ethic. That's when you're talking about my integrity. I take a lot of pride in how hard I work."
Meanwhile, the Yankees placed severe access limits on Jason Giambi's personal trainer, Bob Alejo. He will be allowed on team flights but not the clubhouse.
CONE JOINS METS: Out of baseball last season, pitcher David Cone, 40, signed a minor-league contract. The right-hander was 9-7 with a 4.31 ERA in 25 starts for Boston in 2001. He is 193-123 lifetime with a 3.44 ERA.
CUBS: Billy Williams, a special assistant to the GM, said he was confident a problem with an irregular heartbeat had been addressed.
MARLINS: Outfielder Al Martin signed a minor-league contract.
RED SOX: Catcher David Nilsson, the only Australian ever to be named an All-Star, retired two days before spring camp opened.
ROCKIES: Closer Jose Jimenez agreed to a $3.6-million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.
ROYALS: Outfielder Raul Ibanez avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $3-million, one-year contract.