“If history has taught us anything about Derek Jeter, it’s that reading him is like monitoring the Kremlin,” writes the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch, who could just as well have described the Yankee shortstop as “inscrutable.”

Take, for instance, Jeter’s take on A-Rod’s opt-out. It would’ve been easy (and logical) for Jeter to say the Yankees are better off with Rodriguez’s offense than without, and that both sides hopefully will work out a deal that brings the third baseman back in 2008.

That’s what Jeter should’ve said. Instead, he couldn’t have been more uninvolved.

“I’m not even thinking about next year. Talking about [Rodriguez’s] contract would be a distraction,” Jeter said. “Honestly, it hasn’t come up between us because it’s not my place to bring it up.”

So if Jeter seems disinterested in A-Rod’s future, well, that’s just him “ even if we suspect he wouldn’t mind if Rodriguez packed up and left. The captain has had enough probing about A-Rod this year to be on permanent auto pilot. The mere mention of Alex’s name affects a thick, glassy look in Jeter’s eyes. That’s when the “No Trespassing” sign goes up.

But Jeter’s ultra-cool exterior can also be his flaw, evidenced by a refusal to take on Sheffield. When Jeter’s says “no comment” to Sheffield’s assertion that Torre is a racist, he left the door open to Kenny Lofton “ one of the game’s angriest, most isolated players “ adding credibility to a ludicrous accusation.

Torre the bigot? All Jeter had to do was repeat what he’d told Sheffield so many times over the years: that Torre is a good man who doesn’t judge his players by the color of their skin.

Darryl Strawberry did it, telling the New York Post over the weekend that Torre always treated him fairly. Jim Leyritz did it, too, saying, “Joe hated me and I’m white.”

A Yankee insider offered this theory.

“Everyone’s afraid of Shef,” said the higher-up. “Maybe not physically afraid of him, but no one wants Gary mad at him next, because who knows what he’ll say next? No one wants to be his target, because he’ll obviously say anything. It’s better to let it go, let it die.”

After yet another underwhelming performance from Kei Igawa (5 IP, 115 pitches, 4 walks, 7 hits, 3 earned runs) in the Yanks’ 6-4 defeat of Toronto last night, the Journal News’ Peter Abraham says of the Japanese lefty, “the scout who recommended him shouldn™t be fired. He should be made to watch him pitch.”