February 18, 2009
crumpled paper, trying again to explain where he went wrong.
"Amateur hour," he called it.
The slugger who might someday become baseball's all-time home
run king remembered more details about performance-enhancing drugs
Tuesday, saying his cousin repeatedly injected him from 2001-03
with a mysterious substance from the Dominican Republic.
"I didn't think they were steroids," the New York Yankees star
said. Later, he admitted, "I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs."
Making his second public attempt to explain a 2003 positive drug
test while with Texas, baseball's highest-paid player described a
clumsy scheme in which a cousin persuaded him to use "boli" - a
substance he said the cousin obtained without a prescription and
without consulting doctors or trainers.
"It was really amateur hour. I mean, it was two guys,"
Rodriguez said. "We couldn't ask anyone. We didn't want to ask
Yet, when asked to explain why the secrecy if he didn't think it
was an illegal substance, Rodriguez revealed he had a pretty good
idea he was doing wrong.
"Look, for a week here I've been looking at people to blame,"
he said, "and I keep looking at myself at the end of the day."
His assembled teammates gave him the eye, especially when he
turned to them to apologize and offer thanks for their support.
Rodriguez paused for 37 seconds, searching for the right words.
He looked side to side, blinked several times, bit his lip and took
a sip of water. Only then did he finally look up to face captain
Derek Jeter & Co.
Jeter sat with his arms crossed, joined in the front row by Andy
Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. More than 20 players in
all were there, along with manager Joe Girardi, general manager
Brian Cashman and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner.
Posada left during the question-and-answer session as Rodriguez
went into new details. Other players filed out when the news
conference ended and quickly went to their cars without speaking
"He's a huge investment. So he's an asset, and this is an asset
that's currently in crisis," Cashman said. "So we will do
everything we can to protect that asset. ... If this is Humpty
Dumpty, we've got to put him back together again, to get back up on
Now 33, Rodriguez used the phrase "young and stupid" three
times when referring to himself, "stupid" in two other instances
and "pretty naive and pretty young" in another. He twice
expressed regret for having gone straight into professional
baseball from high school without attending college.
"It's been a very difficult several weeks, and it's been very
painful for me and my family, and I'm here to take my medicine,"
The three-time AL MVP has spent years denying drug use. He spoke
at the Yankees' spring training camp 10 days after Sports
Illustrated reported his name was on a list of 104 players who
tested positive during baseball's anonymous drug survey. The
substances were Primobolan and testosterone, SI reported.
Rodriguez first admitted to using banned substances in an ESPN
interview last week. On Tuesday, his account varied during the news
conference, in which follow-up questions were not permitted. All
questions were cut off after 32 minutes.
At first he said his cousin injected him "twice a month for
about six months during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons." Later he
said, "That may be once a month, it may be three times a month."
"I'm not sure what the benefit was,"' he said. "When you take
any substance or anything, especially in baseball, it's half-mental
and half-physical. ... I certainly felt more energy, but it's hard
to say, hard to say."
Signed to a $275 million, 10-year contract that has nine seasons
left, he is the centerpiece of a team moving into a $1.5 billion
Yankee Stadium and expected by many to break Barry Bonds' home run
record of 762, after hitting 553 already.
Rodriguez sidestepped whether he agreed with commissioner Bud
Selig's assessment that he had shamed the sport.
"I certainly made a mistake, and I feel poorly for that," was
as far as he would game.
Asked whether his stats from 2001-03 should be erased, Rodriguez
said it's not for him to decide.
"The one thing that, I mean I can lay on my pillow at night is
I entered this game when I was 18. I had my best year when I was
20, and then I had my other best year ... in 2007. So, I mean, foul
pole to foul pole is pretty good. I understand the questions and
the doubt. And I laid my bed, I'm going to have to sit on it."
It wasn't clear what exactly "boli" was. Doping experts said
their best guesses were Primobolan, Dianabol or Boldenone.
Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez said substances that are illegal
in the United States are easily available over the counter in Latin
American countries, such as Venezuela (where K-Rod is from) and the
"You have to be careful. But at the same time, you're not
stupid. You know what you're going to buy and what you're not going
to. It's a reality," he said.
Milton Pinedo, president of the Dominican Federation of Sports
Medicine, said Primobolan could not be sold in pharmacies in the
Dominican Republic and would have had to have been bought on the
Rodriguez also said that during the early years of his career in
Seattle, he had used the stimulant "Ripped Fuel," which was
banned by baseball before the 2006 season.
Around the majors, players watched his mid-afternoon news
conference at their training camps.
"I wonder if his cousin even existed," Kansas City pitcher
John Bale said. "That was my first thought. Is his cousin made
"I don't know. He wouldn't give his name or anything. I can
understand he might be trying to protect him," he said.
Girardi said that while Rodriguez had not apologized to him
personally during a half-dozen conversations they had in the past
10 days, no apology was needed.
"I saw tears in his eyes. I saw remorse. I think he was
disappointed that it's come to this," Girardi said. "And as I
said, for him to look and see his teammates - and he didn't have
any idea who was going to be here - he was moved."
Cashman said he thought Rodriguez was in enough mental anguish
that he would consider him the same as players rehabilitating
physical injuries, such as Rivera, Posada and Hideki Matsui.
Said Steinbrenner: "I think the things he needs to focus on are
his things that are really important in life: his children and
"If he can do that, block out this other stuff now and get to
playing baseball with the support of his teammates, everything
should be fine," he said.
Also in the audience Tuesday was Don Hooton, whose 17-year-old
son, Taylor, committed suicide in 2003. Doctors believe Taylor
Hooton became depressed after he stopped using steroids. Rodriguez
said he hoped to join forces with him and baseball to send an
anti-steroid message to kids across the country.
Rodriguez was the third Yankees player in five years to hold a
drug-related apology-filled news conference, following Jason Giambi
(2005) and Pettitte (last year). Because of his accomplishments and
the record he is chasing, questions likely will linger for
"I may have to answer them for the rest of my career," he
said. "The only thing I ask from this group today and the American
people is to judge me from this day forward. That's all I can
AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in Port St. Lucie, AP Sports
Writers Eddie Pells and Travis Reed, AP freelance writers Mark
Didtler, Alan Eskew in Surprise, Ariz., and Dionisio Soldevila in
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, contributed to this report.