Orioles' Showalter downplays comments about Jeter, Epstein

Manager acknowledges he 'probably' criticized Yankees shortstop, Red Sox GM in magazine article, also says he respects them

March 24, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he doesn't remember specifically criticizing New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter or Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, but said he likely did.

The comments were part of a profile of the Orioles manager in the April edition of Men's Journal, months after Showalter was interviewed by the magazine during a lunch meeting in Dallas.

"We were sitting down at a table laughing about different stuff, and three or four months later, somebody brings it up as a quote and it's newsworthy," Showalter said. "I can't remember if I said it or not, but I am 55 years old, I probably did."

In the article, titled "Is This Man Too Smart for Baseball?" the magazine quotes Showalter as saying about Jeter: "The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout. Our guys are thinking, 'Wow, he's screaming at Derek Jeter.' Well, he's always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets — and yes, he [ticks] me off."

About Epstein, Showalter told the magazine: "I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll. You got Carl Crawford 'cause you paid more than anyone else, and that's what makes you smarter? That's why I like whipping their [butts]. It's great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, 'How the hell are they beating us?'"

On Thursday, Showalter said he respected both Jeter and the Red Sox organization.

"Maybe it is envy or something on my part," Showalter said. "But obviously, you all know what I think of Derek and the success the Red Sox have had. Hopefully, we can get to their level one day."

Showalter managed Jeter briefly in 1995, the shortstop's first taste of the big leagues and Showalter's final season in pinstripes. He said he doesn't feel the need to address the situation with Jeter the next time the men see each other.

"No, I know Derek," Showalter said. "He knows there are a lot of things you talk about in clubhouses and what have you, jokingly, kind matter-of-factly and everybody understands it within the arena. But when they get out there publicly, it's not particularly comfortable."

The Red Sox will be in Sarasota on Sunday, and though the Orioles have a split-squad game with half the team going to Dunedin to play the Toronto Blue Jays, Showalter will remain at the home game to see Chris Tillman pitch. It's unlikely the controversy will be further fueled, though he is sure to be asked about it by the Boston media.

Epstein has declined to comment, as has New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. The Yankees were off Thursday, so Jeter was unavailable for comment. Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona came to the defense of his boss, however.

"For the record, I think Theo's really smart — whether he has a high payroll or not," Francona told the Red Sox media. "His choice of managers is smart."

At least twice last year during his daily news conference, Showalter commented on the Yankees getting favorable calls, but nothing came of those statements. This one, however, took on a life of its own.

"It doesn't surprise me, but that's OK. I wouldn't say way too much [has been made of it]," Showalter said. "If you had asked me about it on the other shoe, I would have kind of looked at you, smiled and went out on the field. Unfortunately, it is something people find newsworthy. I understand that and move on."

Showalter said he hasn't read the entire article, but on the urging of Orioles director of public relations Monica Barlow, he thumbed through it.

"I think I just glanced through it today for the first time because Monica thought it would be a good idea. I didn't read it all," Showalter said. "Two quotes. How was the rest of it?"

In another Orioles connection to a national magazine, Forbes has published its annual evaluation of franchises. The Orioles are listed as 18th of 30 in the major leagues with a total worth of $411 million, a 9 percent one-year value increase according to the business magazine.

The Yankees are No. 1, valued at $1.7 billion, and the Red Sox were second at $912 million.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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