TAMPA, Fla. — When Alex Rodriguez was asked today about excerpts of a new book by Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts alleging that the Yankees slugger may have taken steroids as far back as high school and that he has taken human growth hormone while with the Yankees, he kept his response simple:
“I’m not going there,” said Rodriguez, wearing a blue T-shirt and blue warm up pants as he left the Yankees’ minor league complex early this afternoon. “I’m so happy about being back on the field and playing baseball [after having hip surgery earlier this spring]. My team has won two games [in a row] up there. Hopefully I can come back and help them win more.”
The excerpts, which were published in today’s New York Daily News, revealed that Rodriguez had developed rounded pectorals, called gynecomasta, which according to what Roberts wrote is a sign of anabolic steroid use. She also quotes an unnamed player who indicated Rodriguez and former Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown took human growth hormone in 2004.
According to the Daily News, Brown, who was named in the Mitchell Report, denied through a lawyer that he ever shared the hormone with the highest-paid player in baseball.
In the excerpt, it was revealed that two anonymous Yankees said they believed A-Rod was using based on side effects they saw. And a clubhouse staffer said management wondered if he was using banned substances.
“No one ever asked Alex directly that I know of, but there was a lot of suspicion in house,” the employee is quoted as saying.
The book, published by HarperCollins and set to be released May 12, also details Rodriguez’s long relationship with Angel Presinal, a Dominican trainer banned from clubhouses after a steroid-related incident in 2001.
When asked about the alleged steroid use in high school and whether he’d been truthful with the media when admitting his past steroid use during a spring training, he ended today’s press conference and said again, “I’m.not going there.”
Asked if he were tired of the steroid talk, he said, “Ahhh, yeah.”
Rodriguez faced live pitching for the first time yesterday and went 1 for 6 with two walks. His only hit was a home run against extended spring training Single A pitchers.
“I think I’m in a good place,” he said. “I think I’m feeling better physically. I’ve had a great week here. I’ve worked extremely hard and I’m very anxious to do what God put me on this Earth to do and that’s play baseball.”
After doing running drills and running the basepaths yesterday, Rodriguez just hit today.
“It felt good,” he said. “It’s been a long time. It felt good to be in the box. to see some professional pitching.”
“It was the first day so it actually feels good to execute the swing, track some pitches. I guess I saw about 30 (actually 33) pitches today and that felt pretty good. This is the first day and tomorrow [at Bradenton, Fla.] is another.”
A-Rod said the hip is not a concern anymore and those who have watched him regularly say he’s moving and running quite well.
“It’s not a concern,” he said. “Dr. [Marc J.] Philippon [who performed the surgery] was here yesterday and he was happy with what he saw. He tested me and moved me around after the workout, and physically I feel just fine.”
Rodriguez did not know about a timetable for his return to the Bronx, though he indicated there would soon be a meeting with the Yankees medical staff and GM Brian Cashman to determine that. He didn’t think he had to face tougher competition before he made his way to the Yankees.
“I need to run the bases 100 percent, make some good turns. And I think the last thing I’m going to do here before I leave is sliding. I think sliding is the thing I have the most reservations about. Slide on the hip and bounce on it a little bit. Everything else seems like we’re on schedule. The biggest thing is how I feel. I don’t think that really makes a difference. I’ve been to rehab two or three times in my career and the most important thing is to be able to execute every move and make every play.”
Rodriguez said he’s watched “every pitch” of every Yankee game since he’s been in Florida and feels better after watching Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain pitch well back-to-back.