TAMPA, Fla. -A contrite and nervous Alex Rodriguez said yesterday that he injected a performance-enhancing drug repeatedly over three years of his career, again calling himself "stupid and naive" but failing to offer a further explanation for his use of a substance he said he didn't know was a steroid at the time.
Rodriguez said he got the drug, which he referred to as "boli," from the Dominican Republic with the help of a cousin, whom he declined to name. He said he and the cousin took the drug - which he said was supposed to provide increased energy - perhaps twice a month for the six months of the baseball seasons from 2001 to 2003.
"We knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs," he said. But he said he and his cousin did not know how the drug should be administered, how often it should be taken or exactly what the benefits were. That, he seemed to acknowledge, provides a contrast with the practices of an elite athlete who is acutely aware of what he puts in his body.
"I was 24, I was 24," he said. "I was pretty naive. I was pretty young." He also described himself as "curious."
As for whether it was cheating, Rodriguez said, "That's not for me to determine."
Rodriguez's remarks came in a packed tent behind the left-field stands at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Nearly the entire New York Yankees roster attended, including shortstop Derek Jeter, catcher Jorge Posada, pitcher Andy Pettitte and closer Mariano Rivera - the old guard of the Yankees - along the front row of seats. Rodriguez tried to address his teammates in his opening remarks but stopped because he became too emotional.
"I saw tears," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, seated at the podium with Rodriguez. "I saw remorse."
Rodriguez's news conference, which came on the day Yankees position players were due in camp, followed by 10 days a Sports Illustrated report that Rodriguez had tested positive for two anabolic steroids - testosterone and methenolone, which is also known by the brand name Primobolan - in 2003. Two days later, in an interview with ESPN, Rodriguez admitted he had taken banned substances during his three years with the Texas Rangers - though he did not specify what he took or where he got them.
Because of those holes in his admission, Rodriguez's news conference was eagerly attended by about 150 reporters and was carried live on ESPN and the Yankees-owned YES Network.
Rangers owner Tom Hicks told the Associated Press later yesterday that Rodriguez called him last week to apologize about his steroid use. Hicks said Rodriguez didn't ask him to accept the apology, and Hicks didn't.