A-Rod live blog

Our man Nick Cafardo is in Tampa to document today’s highly anticipated Alex Rodriguez press conference, and following the controversial Yankees superstar’s first formal chat with the media since he admitted using performance-enhancing substances, he will file a full report on Extra Bases.

In the meantime, we kept tabs on the whole scene with live updates and quotes as the press conference took place. Here’s how the scene played out, from beginning to end . . .

* * *
So far, at 1:39 p.m., there’s nothing but a bunch of reporters standing around holding notebooks. Perhaps A-Rod is still in dress rehearsal.
* * *
At 1:51 p.m.sharp, Rodriguez has at last arrived at the press conference, walking through a group of reporters and shaking several hands. Dressed in a black dress shirt and khakis, he’s joined at the dais by general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.
Several Yankees players are reportedly in attendance but are off camera. Thought they’d be more front and center. Hank Steinbrenner is also in there but not at the dais.
* * *
Rodriguez begins by reading from a prepared statement, opening with a plea for patience:
“I’m a little nervous, or a lot nervous, bear with me a little bit . . . I know I am in a position where I have to earn trust back . . . ”
* * *
Somewhat surprisingly, A-Rod is openly sharing the details of when, where and what he began using. He said he tried it with a cousin, “one stupider than the other.” As he told Gammons, he said he used a steroid he knew as “bole” from 2001-03. His said he and his cousin decided it was “a good idea” to start using it, and that his cousin administered it to him. Rodriguez said he didn’t know what he was doing with it, the effects it would have, or how to use it.
* * *
Rodriguez said he stopped using the drug when he had a serious neck injury in spring training 2003 and, sounding like an “Afterschool Special,” was scared straight. He also noted that the drug testing program implemented by major league baseball after the 2003 season convinced him how serious the epidemic was and that he did not want to be involved.
“It isn’t lost on me the good fortune I received from playing baseball,” Rodriguez said, continuing to read from his prepared statement, which appears to be multiple pages. “Like everyone else I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle them is to learn from them and move forward. One thing I know for sure is that baseball is a lot bigger than Alex Rodriguez. And to my teammates . . . ”
At the mention of his teammates, Rodriguez became choked up and stopped reading from his prepared statement. After a brief pause of about 20 seconds to compose himself, he stopped reading from the statement and the media was permitted to begin asking questions.
* * *
Rodriguez, who said he was “young and foolish” during his interview with Gammons even though he was 25 and a veteran of five full seasons when he began taking the drug, answered one question by noting that he missed out by not going to college and gaining the appropriate maturity:
“If I had a son I would definitely recommend going to college and having a chance to grow up, and I didn’t [do that],” he said.
And later: “I’m here to say that I’m sorry. I’m here to say that in some ways I wished I went to college, to have an opportunity to grow up at my own pace.”
And again, later: “I entered the game when I was 18. If I had a son, I would definitely recommend going to college and having the opportunity to grow up. And I didn’t.”
* * *
On what he gained physically from using steroids: “I’m not sure what the benefit was [of taking it].” He said it was half physical and half mental and felt more energy, but that the actual benefit “was hard to say. It’s worth noting that Rodriguez hit 156 home runs in the three seasons he said he was using, including a career-high 57 in 2002.
On how the steroids were administered: “Injection,” he said simply.
* * *
Interestingly — and again falling back on the “Young And Stupid” defense — Rodriguez seemed to indicate that he wasn’t even sure he was using steroids.
“I didn’t think they were steroids,” he said. “That again is part of being young and stupid. It was over the counter, it was pretty basic. It was really amateur hour. It was two guys doing a very amateur and immature thing. We probably didn’t even take it right.”
He said he took it two times a month.
* * *
Rodriguez had no interest in discussing his chances at setting the major league home run record:
“I’m trying to get by the day today,” he said. “It’s been a very difficult couple weeks for my family. And I’m here to take my medicine. . . . I’m sure there will be a lot of debates and a lot of question about everything I did in that period.”
* * *
When asked if he ever tried human growth hormone or amphetamines, Rodriguez was quick to say he never tried HGH, but revealed he used a supplement during his time in Seattle called Ripped Fuel, which is now banned by the MLB.
When asked why he was so secretive about using Bole with his cousin (who he refused to name) if he didn’t think it was illegal, he replied, “That’s a good question . . . I knew we weren’t taking Tic Tacs.” No further explanation was offered.
* * *
Rodriguez claimed he never saw or knew of anyone else using steroids, and added that he believes that the MLB’s drug testing program is a good one.
* * *
When faced with the most blunt question so far, Rodriguez did not offer a straight answer.
In response to a very specific query from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman on why he would inject something twice a month into his body if he claimed he didn’t know what it was, he replied:
“It goes back to being young and being curious. I realized, thank God that I realized, that I was being silly and irresponsible, and I decided to stop. And I was a young guy.”
Also, he was young. Did he mention that yet?
* * *
On why he lied to CBS’s Katie Couric when she asked him in an interview a few years ago if he’d ever used steroids:
“I thought that since I didn’t hear about it for five years there was a chance that it was OK.”
In other words, he thought he had gotten away with it and it would never come up again.
* * *
Rodriguez clearly does not intend any acknowledgment or rumination on how the admission might affect his place in history. When asked if his stats from 2001-03 should be wiped out, he said curtly, “That’s not for me to decide.”
* * *
In his final comments of the press conference, Rodriguez came across as genuine, which as we know isn’t always the case with him.
“The last 15 months have been very, very tough,” he said when asked how this has affected him. “I’ve been through divorce. I’ve been through tabloids. You name it. I miss playing baseball, I miss simply playing baseball.
“Judge me from this day forward. That’s all I can ask for.”
The media was then informed the Q&A was over, sent off with a warning from the Yankees public relations person to not trample each other.
* * *
Click here for transcript of our live chat with the Globe’s Tony Massarotti after A-Rod’s press conference.

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