RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — It appears the only place Alex Rodriguez might detail his drug use is on a witness stand.
The ever controversial New York Yankees star decided against holding a news conference ahead of his return to the team following a one-year absence. He issued a vague five-paragraph handwritten apology Tuesday “for the mistakes that led to my suspension” but failed to provide specifics about how and why he resumed using performance-enhancing drugs for at least the second stretch of his celebrated career.
Readying to report back to the Yankees following an unprecedented season-long ban for violating baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract, Rodriguez apologized to team officials in person during a meeting at the ballpark on Feb. 10. They suggested he hold a news conference before the start of spring training this Friday and offered the use of Yankee Stadium.
He held an apologetic session with reporters in 2009 at the team’s facility in Tampa, Florida, after he admitted using banned PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03. That was before Major League Baseball had a drug agreement with penalties.
“The only thing I ask from this group today and the American people is to judge me from this day forward,” he said then.
But he apparently did not want to face questions from media about his latest involvement with PEDs — although he could be required to testify in federal court if his cousin, Yuri Sucart, and former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro Collazo go to trial on charges they committed crimes in their involvement with the Biogenesis of America drug clinic. Rodriguez admitted in court documents he used PEDs.
ESPN The Magazine said it planned to release an interview Wednesday in which Rodriguez said he thinks Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch gave him a placebo. Rodriguez also said he considered retirement early in his suspension, is in therapy and secretly visits colleges. He told ESPN he took a marketing class during his suspension and wants to complete his education.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig suspended the three-time AL MVP for 211 games in August 2013, citing conduct from 2010-12 uncovered during MLB’s investigation of Biogenesis, which was based in Coral Gables, Florida, not far from Rodriguez’s home.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced the penalty to the 2014 season, finding “clear and convincing evidence” Rodriguez used three banned substances and twice tried to obstruct baseball’s drug investigation.
Hoping to overcome the suspension and a pair of hip surgeries, Rodriguez is due to report to the Yankees on Feb. 25 and start workouts the following day. He has not played a full season since 2007.
Rodriguez addressed his statement “to the fans” and said “I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season” without explaining what those mistakes were.
“I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be,” he wrote in legible blue script. “To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the players’ association and you, the fans, I can only say I’m sorry.”
Rodriguez said “I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why, and that’s on me.”
“It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology but I decided the next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job,” he said.
Bosch was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty in October to a charge of conspiracy to distribute testosterone.
New York says Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, has been replaced by Chase Headley at third base and will have to compete for playing time at designated hitter and as an infield backup.
Rodriguez is owed $61 million over the final three seasons of his contract, and the Yankees say they do not plan to pay five $6 million bonuses detailed in a marketing agreement for historic achievements he may reach. Rodriguez is fifth on the career list with 654 home runs, and the deal contemplates the first bonus being triggered when he ties Willie Mays at 660.
Before apologizing to the Yankees, Rodriguez met last month with Rob Manfred, who succeeded Selig as baseball commissioner on Jan. 25.
“I served the longest suspension in the history of the league for PED use,” Rodriguez said. “The commissioner has said the matter is over. The players’ association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball. I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball. This game has been my single biggest passion since I was a teenager. When I go to spring training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win.”
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