|In this march 3, 2003 file photo, top, Texas Rangers' Alex Rodriguez hits a two-RBI single against the San Diego Padres during a spring training game in Peoria, Ariz. In this March 26, 2008 file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez swings against the Philadelphia Phillies during a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla. Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in his MVP season of 2003, according to a report by Sports Illustrated. The ankees star tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources told Sports Illustrated in a story posted Saturday, feb. 7, 2009 on its Web site. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, top, and Paul Sancya, bottom)|
A-Rod's former coach 'surprised' by steroid use
MIAMI—Rich Hofman remembers how talented Alex Rodriguez was in high school. Now he says he is saddened his former phenom will have to live with steroids as part of his legacy.
"I know what it's going to do for him, what he has to carry with him, what he's going to have to put up with for the rest of his life," said Hofman, who coached Rodriguez at Miami Westminster Christian. "It's something you can't take an eraser to. Now it becomes part of your history."
Rodriguez admitted Monday in an ESPN interview that he used steroids from 2001-03 while with the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez said he wanted to prove that he was worth his 10-year, $252 million contract.
The admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported Rodriguez was among 104 names on a list of players who tested positive for steroids in 2003.
"I'm happy that he came out and was honest and said what he did," Hofman said. "At least he's owned up to it, and I think we have to accept the responsibility for the mistakes that we make in our life and move on and not repeat them."
But Hofman, who remembered how hard Rodriguez worked as a prep star, said he didn't think the All-Star third baseman needed performance-enhancing drugs.
"I was pretty surprised," Hofman said. "I never had any indications of it. With his work ethic and the way he went about his business, baseball was first and everything else was second. I never really felt like he needed it."
Rodriguez batted .505 as a senior at Westminster Christian, and was the No. 1 overall pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 1993 draft. Hofman, 64, said it was a "great honor" to have coached Rodriguez.
"He was the best," Hofman said. "He's probably one of the best to ever play in high school in the history of our country."
Although he was born in New York, Rodriguez was raised in Miami and still has strong ties to the city. He grew up near the University of Miami and is expected to attend an event Friday at the school, which is renaming its baseball field in his honor after his $3.9 million donation.
Hofman said he continues to have a strong relationship with his former star. When Rodriguez was traded from Texas to the New York Yankees, Hofman said it was "kind of like a fairy tale." Hofman and Rodriguez recently met up for a baseball clinic in Mexico City around Thanksgiving. He said the slugger might be able to overcome the latest twist in his career and still reach the Hall of Fame.
"I think one of the possible advantages for him over a Barry Bonds or a Mark McGwire ... is he still has, hopefully, a considerable period of time in which to put this behind him," Hofman said.