Alex Rodriguez, who missed the entire 2014 season serving a record ban for performance-enhancing drugs, reported to the New York Yankees training camp MondayAlex Rodriguez, who missed the entire 2014 season serving a record ban for performance-enhancing drugs, reported to the New York Yankees training camp Monday (AFP Photo/Kevin C. Cox)
New York (AFP) - Disgraced Major League Baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez released a hand-written apology note Tuesday to fans, his New York Yankees teammates and the league for his doping and other mistakes.
Rodriguez, who missed the entire 2014 season serving the longest doping ban in major league history, met with the Yankees last week and apologized to the organization, including its long-time owners, the Steinbrenner family.
A week later, and just nine days before he and the Yankees gather in Florida to begin pre-season training for the 2015 campaign, Rodriguez said he was sorry he took performance-enhancing substances and also apologized for his often-combative actions in fighting the process that led to his suspension.
"I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season," Rodriguez said. "I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I'm sorry."
Addressing the broken trust "A-Rod" had with supporters, the 39-year-old third baseman who closed his letter "sincerely, Alex," admitted he knew many baseball fans will still doubt him.
"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," Rodriguez said.
The apology came only hours after a federal judge in Florida issued a four-year prison sentence to Anthony Bosch, who supplied Rodriguez and more than a dozen other major league players with banned substances, including human growth hormones, steroids and testosterone before the Biogenesis scandal was uncovered in 2013.
Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, was originally given a 211-game ban but it was later reduced to 162 games, the entire 2014 campaign.
"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."
- A-Rod delays questions -
What he was not ready to do, however, was face questions from reporters. He rejected an offer from the team to use Yankee Stadium as a backdrop to a news conference where he might issue an apology, but his statement only ensured that the questions would linger over next week's start of pre-season training camp not only for Rodriguez but for his teammates.
"It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology, but I decided that next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job," said Rodriguez.
In 2009, Rodriguez admitted in a pre-season news conference at training camp that he took steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003.
The doping revelations have tainted Rodriguez's chase of Major League Baseball's career home run records. His 654 career homers rank fifth on the all-time list -- six shy of Willie Mays in fourth, 60 behind Babe Ruth in third and 108 off the record 762 set by Barry Bonds, whose links to banned substances have tainted his achievement in the eyes of many fans.
The Yankees owe Rodriguez $61 million through the 2017 season but are expected to fight against having to pay out bonus money in the contract for his rising up the all-time homer list.
"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," Rodriguez said.