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Baseball Slugger A-Rod Tries To Start Fresh


Alex Rodriguez tried again yesterday to answer some of the questions surrounding him. During a news conference in Tampa, the star baseball player apologized to fans, to his New York Yankees teammates, and to baseball for using banned drugs. The all-star is hoping to start fresh as the new season gets underway. And we've called Bob Holtzman, who reports for the ESPN program "Sports Center."

Good morning.

Mr. BOB HOLTZMAN (ESPN "Sports Center"): How are you doing?

INSKEEP: Okay, thanks. Understand you were at the news conference yesterday. Did you learn anything new?

Mr. HOLTZMAN: Well, I think the two big new things that came out where what he took and where he got it. The problem is that both of those answers have now raised even more questions, because he said what he took was a substance called bole. And some drug experts are now saying that that wouldn't cause, obviously, two positive tests, which is what has being reported. And he said he got it from his cousin, but then he declined to say who his cousin was. So now that's going to cause reporters to go digging even more.

INSKEEP: Oh, so you're wondering if he's really told everything here.

Mr. HOLTZMAN: I don't think there's any question that there's still more to this story. It's just a matter of how much he's told and how much there still is out there.

INSKEEP: You know, I don't know what it felt like being there. I got a chance to see the news conference on TV and felt like Rodriguez's silences were as powerful as things that he said.

Mr. HOLTZMAN: Yeah, at times I think they were. And the question is how much of that was calculated or pre-scripted and how much of that was honest emotion. I think there were definitely a couple of times that you felt that he could -that he was about to tear up. And I was sitting about 15 feet away from him. It seemed sincere, but it's just hard to know for sure.

INSKEEP: He tried to say something to his teammates, got choked up. There were some other silences, though, as he was asked difficult questions. You'll recall, if you saw it at home, that he said he didn't know that taking this particular substance was wrong. But he went on to say that he avoided asking expert opinion. He didn't want to ask anybody. And that led to a follow-up question from the New York Post.

Unidentified Man (New York Post Reporter): If you didn't think it was wrong why were you so secretive and so reluctant to ask for assistance with what you were doing?

Mr. ALEX RODRIGUEZ (Major League Baseball Player): That's a good question. I knew we weren't taking Tic-Tacs.

INSKEEP: And he went on to answer in a way, Mr. Holtzman, that made me feel that Rodriguez is basically saying I didn't want to know for sure if this was wrong. I had my suspicions, but I just wanted to deny it.

Mr. HOLTZMAN: Well, I think you're right. And I think there were a couple of times, and this being one of them, that he clearly contradicted himself. I actually re-watched the news conference last night. And there was - at one point he said that he never thought he was doing anything wrong. And then within about two minutes he said that he knew it potentially could've been wrong. So which one was it?

And it just really seemed - a number of times he was asked questions about his opinion and he never once gave his opinion. He just always spun that back to, well, that's for other people to decide. So it was very clear that there were certain talking points that he was trying to stay on.

INSKEEP: One other thing. Having said what he said, he told his teammates that we're going to go on and have the best season of our lives. What are his teammates saying?

Mr. HOLTZMAN: Well, not much yet, Steve. Johnny Damon was the only teammate who spoke publicly yesterday afterward. Derek Jeter will speak today, as will, I assume, a number of his other teammates. But you can bet that they're going to say what they're supposed to say. Number one, because Alex Rodriguez is such an important part of this team, that they almost have to publicly support him. But number two, you're never going to see a teammate, at least during the baseball season, come out and criticize another one.

So whether or not they believe it is another story. I'm not sure we'll ever know that. But I think you're going to hear nothing but positive remarks from his teammates.

INSKEEP: And we'll see what remarks come from other quarters as more reporting goes on.

Mr. Holtzman, thanks very much.

Mr. HOLTZMAN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: He's a reporter for the ESPN program "Sports Center." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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