If anyone can mend fences between the Yankees and A-Rod, it is Derek Jeter.
Jeter's legend in New York is so big you could practically fill the state with all the stories that are made up about him. He is a folk hero to the fans and the city, similar to what Chuck Norris has become in pop culture.
The latest heroics from the Yankee captain involve getting A-Rod and the Yankees brass who were not so happy with the star third baseman for his quick computer finger to patch up some of their differences.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, Jeter said that he can see the work his embattled teammate is putting in to get back on the field this season as the two are working out in Tampa.
"Alex works extremely hard," Jeter told the Daily News. "He is working hard now to get back.”
That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, or a sign that the two are best friends, but it is a small gesture from Jeter to Rodriguez that the Yankees have undoubtedly taken note of.
In case you have missed this week's edition of Days of Our Yankees, Rodriguez tweeted on Tuesday that his personal doctor had cleared him to start playing games as he continues to rehab the hip that caused him problems at the end of last year and required surgery in January.
Visit from Dr. Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news - the green light to play games again! http://t.co/RuzfXOJjHI— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) June 25, 2013
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, apparently not thrilled that a player on his team was using another doctor who doesn't work for the organization, had some very choice words for the former AL MVP.
The two sides did issue statements after their spat became a hot topic for conversation on talk shows and the Internet.
Rodriguez said that he was just excited about getting some good news regarding his on-field career, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports.
"I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win. The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly's prognosis."
Cashman: "The tweet created some issues and I obviously added to those issues."— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) June 26, 2013
Cashman: "I didn't handle this one well. I popped. Reality TV at its best."— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) June 26, 2013
Neither side was exactly apologetic about what happened, though Rodriguez really didn't have anything to apologize about. Cashman took a situation that should have been small in the scheme of things—Rodriguez being able to play in games—and escalated it with a very deliberate choice of words.
Where Jeter fits into this whole situation is pretty simple: As the face of the franchise, the most popular player in baseball today and one who everyone around the game respects, he can help mend the fences in a way that no one else can.
Will the Yankees and A-Rod repair their relationship?
Just having Rodriguez and the Yankees discuss their issues isn't going to do anyone any good. He has become a problem that the team doesn't want to deal with, between the albatross contract—which isn't Rodriguez's fault at all, but the Yankees' for making a bad business decision—and the Biogenesis situation causing a headache that isn't going away.
Unless Rodriguez plans on retiring, which Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News reported could be on his agenda, the two sides are stuck with each other for the foreseeable future.
Since there has to be some semblance of peace in the locker room, Rodriguez and the Yankees need to come to an agreement on how to co-exist without completely destroying each other through the media.
Jeter is the perfect middle man. Even though he and A-Rod may not be the best of friends, Jeter is smart enough to know that, given the options at hand, Rodriguez is the best third baseman for this team right now.
The Yankees, who are 42-36 and 4.5 games back in the American League East, need him to be at or near the level he was in 2012—which wasn't great, but is far better than what Kevin Youkilis and David Adams have done at third base this year—if they want to have any chance at making the playoffs.
A vote of confidence from Jeter would be enough to get the Yankees to back off in their quest to completely alienate Rodriguez and cast him out like a leper.
There has been no indication from anyone that Jeter will take that step, nor should it be first or second on his priority list, but something has to change quickly for the Yankees to stay afloat in the American League East.
It will be a very interesting second half in the Bronx, with Jeter and Rodriguez scheduled to return at some point after the All-Star break. For the sake of the Yankees, they must find a way to get the left side of their infield working together.