A-Rod won't discuss latest on book

Updated: May 1, 2009, 9:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Alex Rodriguez refused to address allegations that he used steroids when he was a highly touted high school player and with the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez admitted in February to using performance-enhancing drugs while he was with the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003, but insisted he stopped before he was traded to the Yankees in 2004.

He brushed off a question Thursday about some 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. "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."

Rodriguez said Thursday that 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 every day. 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."

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 doesn't say how it obtained a copy of the HarperCollins book, which is scheduled to be released May 4.

Roberts broke the story that A-Rod failed a steroid test in 2003. Yankees teammates, Roberts writes in the book, nicknamed Rodriguez "B---h T--s" in 2005 because he put on 15 pounds in the offseason that resulted in round pectorals, a condition called gynecomastia that can be caused by anabolic steroids.

Roberts' book also details Rodriguez's relationship with Dominican trainer Angel Presinal, who is banned from major league clubhouses.

Roberts, during an interview on Dan Patrick's syndicated radio show Thursday, said sources told her after Rodriguez's spring training news conference -- in which he apologized to his Yankees teammates -- that Rodriguez was not entirely truthful at that media session.

"Sources came to me and said there were some things he said during his press conference that just didn't jibe," Roberts said on the radio show.

The Daily News reported that according to Roberts' book, Rodriguez put on 25 pounds of muscle between his sophomore and junior years. Former high school teammates told Roberts that A-Rod was using steroids back then and his coach knew it -- an allegation the coach, Rich Hofman, denied.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaAlex Rodriguez went 1-for-6 with a homer and two walks in an extended spring training intrasquad game.

"What would be alarming is if somebody didn't work and got a lot bigger," Hofman told The Associated Press 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 every day," 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."

In the radio interview with Patrick, Roberts said based on the sudden improvement in Rodriguez's bench press (from 100 to 310) in just six months in high school, and "in conjunction with the reporting that I did with [his high school] teammates would make it irrefutable to me, not a 'may have,' " that Rodriguez took performance-enhancing drugs in high school.

In the book, an unnamed major leaguer is quoted as saying Rodriguez and former Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown, who was named in the Mitchell report, were seen together with human growth hormone (HGH) in 2004.

Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Doug Mientkiewicz, a high school teammate of Rodriguez's, said he, Rodriguez and three teammates spent as much time together as possible -- and that he never saw any signs that Rodriguez was taking steroids, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. "From my perspective, it would be 99.9 percent impossible for us not to know," he said.

"You're basically accusing every kid that's gone through puberty that they're on steroids too, huh?" Mientkiewicz said, according to the Times. "He gained a couple of inches height-wise, too, if I remember right. ... I knew what he looked like in ninth grade. He was skinny. Who isn't in ninth grade? He was very dedicated back then, he worked harder than anyone else."

Rangers owner Tom Hicks said Rodriguez used about other players and their alleged steroid use.

"Alex used to tell me negative things about other players around the league that were suspected [of steroid use]," Hicks said in the book.

Rodriguez, rehabbing from hip surgery, went 1 for 6 with a walk Friday in an intrasquad game in Tampa. He had no comment for reporters.

Rodriguez said Thursday he needs to run the bases at full speed and is still on target to return to the Yankees in May.

"I think the last thing I'm going to do here before I leave is sliding," he 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. Everything else seems so far on schedule."

Rodriguez could be on track to rejoin the Yankees when they are in Baltimore from May 8 to 10. Girardi isn't dwelling on the steroids issue in Rodriguez's past and recommends Rodriguez 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 not 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."

Mike Cramer, who was president of the Texas Rangers while Rodriguez played there, said he never heard or saw anything suggesting Rodriguez was tipping pitches, the New York Post reported.

"From the position I was in, you pick up things, you hear rumors," Cramer said, according to the Post. "I never heard anyone say anything about [tipping pitches]."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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