NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) — With Spring Training just days away, one of baseball’s biggest stars is trying to resurrect his image, and his career.
Alex Rodriguez issued a five-paragraph handwritten apology “for the mistakes that led to my suspension” on Tuesday without detailing specifics about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Ready to report back to the Yankees following a season-long suspension 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, but Rodriguez declined.
Rodriguez held an apologetic news conference in 2009 at the team’s facility in Tampa, Florida, after he admitted using banned PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03, before Major League Baseball had a drug agreement with penalties. But he did not want to face questions from media about his latest involvement with PEDs — although he could be required to testify if his cousin, Yuri Sucart, and former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro Collazo, go to trial on charges they committed crimes for their involvement with the Biogenesis of America drug clinic. Rodriguez admitted in court documents he used PEDs.
Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez 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.
Rodriguez directed the players’ association to file a grievance and filed a lawsuit against the Yankees’ team doctor, accusing him of mishandling his medical care. After a hearing, 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 the baseball’s drug investigation.
All the while proclaiming his innocence, Rodriguez sued MLB and the union in an effort to overturn the penalty, then dropped the litigation and accepted the suspension. He is due to report to the Yankees on Feb. 25 and start workouts the following day.
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 said. “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.
Rodriguez made clear he doesn’t intend to publicly explain why he got involved with Biogenesis. The clinic’s owner, Anthony 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 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 achivements he may reach.
Before apologizing to the Yankees last week, Rodriguez met last month with Rob Manfred, who succeeded Selig as baseball commissioner on Jan. 26.
“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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