Derek Jeter congratulated former teammate Alex Rodriguez, saying in a statement that the New York Yankees slugger "lives and breathes baseball."
Jeter's comments were released along with statements from several other prominent former Yankees on Friday, hours before Rodriguez plays his final game in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.
"What people don't realize is how much time, effort and work that Alex put in on a daily basis," Jeter said. "He lives and breathes baseball. I know it will be difficult for him to not be on the field, but I'm sure he will continue to give back to the game. Congrats, Alex."
Rodriguez will be released by the Yankees after Friday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays and become an adviser and instructor for the organization. The three-time American League MVP was Jeter's teammate with the Yankees for 11 years from 2004 to 2014 and helped New York to a championship in 2009.
"I've spent 22 years playing against, playing with and watching Alex from afar, and there are two things that stand out to me the most: the conversations we had when we were young -- hoping for the opportunity to play at the Major League level and then somehow finding a way to stick around -- and the championship we won together in 2009," Jeter said. "That was a season everyone on that team can cherish."
Former Yankees manager Joe Torre said in a statement that Rodriguez "should be proud of the way he carried himself these last two years," referring to Rodriguez's return to baseball after serving a 162-game suspension in 2014 for his involvement in the Biogenesis doping scandal.
Former Yankees stars Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada also praised Rodriguez in statements Friday.
"I love him -- as a friend and as a teammate," Rivera said. "He was all you could ask for in both."
Derek Jeter praises Alex Rodriguez: 'He lives and breathes baseball'
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