NEW YORK - A new, unflattering biography of Alex Rodriguez reportedly says he may have used steroids as early as high school and even after he joined the New York Yankees.
Rodriguez admitted in February to using steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, but insisted he stopped before he was traded to the Yankees in February 2004. He brushed off a question Thursday about details from Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts’ upcoming book “A-Rod” that cast doubt on his earlier statements.
“I’m not going there,” he said after homering in an extended spring training intrasquad game in Tampa, Fla. Rodriguez has been rehabbing from hip surgery in March and hasn’t played for the Yankees this season.
“I’m just so excited about being back on the field and playing baseball. My team has won two games (in a row) up there and hopefully I can come back and help them win some more,” he said.
The Daily News reported Thursday that Roberts’ book portrays the three-time AL MVP as a needy personality who wanted his ego stroked constantly and a player who tipped opponents to pitches in blowout games, hoping the favor would get returned someday.
The paper didn’t say how it obtained a copy of the Harper Collins book, scheduled for release Monday.
A high school teammate of A-Rod’s told Roberts that the future No. 1 draft pick was on steroids as a prep player and his coach knew it — an allegation the coach, Rich Hofman, denied.
“What would be alarming is if somebody didn’t work and got a lot bigger,” Hofman told The Associated Press on Thursday night. “But the fact is, he was the hardest-working guy around. No reason to be alarmed. I was in the weight room, I was in the classroom, I was in the field every day that he was there. And the work ethic was definitely there.”
But, Hofman said it would be “far-fetched” to say that he kept track of his star player’s every movement.
“I didn’t follow him home everyday,” he said. “I wasn’t his parent. I took care of him at school, I gave him the best advice I could give him about how to live his life. And after that, it’s up to him.”
Rodriguez said he wasn’t worried that the steroids issue was being brought up again.
“No. Not really,” he said. “I’m in a good place. I think more importantly physically I feel like I’m getting better everyday. We’ve had a great week here. We’ve worked extremely hard, and I’m just very anxious to do what God put me on this earth to do, to play baseball.”
In the book, an unidentified major leaguer is quoted as saying A-Rod and former Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown, who was named in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drug use, were seen together with human growth hormone in 2004.
The book also goes on to say that two anonymous Yankees said they believed A-Rod was using banned substances based on visual side effects, and that a clubhouse staffer said management had a suspicion that that the third baseman may have been juicing.
Rodriguez went 1-for-6 with two walks as a designated hitter in Thursday’s extended spring game. He had a long homer to left-center in his sixth plate appearance.
He was slated to play in another extended spring game Friday against Pirates minor leaguers at Pittsburgh’s complex in Bradenton.
Rodriguez said he needs to run the bases at full speed and is still on target to return to the Yankees in May. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he expects A-Rod will play third base on either Saturday or Monday.
“I think the last thing I’m going to do here before I leave is sliding,” Rodriguez said. “I think sliding is probably the thing I have the most reservation about because you have to get on your hip and bounce on it a little bit.”
Rodriguez could rejoin the Yankees in Baltimore from May 8-10. Girardi isn’t dwelling on the steroids issue in Rodriguez’s past and recommends A-Rod deal with it the same way.
“To me it seems like a lot of ’He said, she said’ kind of stuff,” Girardi said. “We’ve been down this road. We’re going to move on, and Alex has talked about how he’s going to move on. And to me the focus about Alex Rodriguez is he had eight at-bats today.”
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, a teammate of Rodriguez’s with Texas in 2003, said he had never heard the pitch-tipping allegation. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he had never been aware of a player letting opponents know what pitches were coming.
“That’s insane. That’s not what we’re out on the field for. So if it is going on, it’s obviously, you know, crosses a line of integrity that, you know, couldn’t be breached,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to obviously document and prove and, you know, you don’t give it much thought because, you know, you certainly work on the assumption — there’s no reason why you wouldn’t — that everybody on your team is out there trying to win.”
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, Rodriguez’s former manager with the Yankees, was troubled by the unsubstantiated allegations.
“You know what I have a problem with? All these unnamed sources that their parents never named,” Torre said. “Alex has had a lot of things dumped on him here, aside from his injury.”
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