A-Rod clarifies statement on testing
Slugger says he 'wasn't being specific' in previous remarks
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are stressing fundamentals in camp this year, focusing more on hit-and-runs, bunts and taking extra bases. Those lessons aren't the only ones for Alex Rodriguez.
Some 10 minutes into his first group interview of the spring, A-Rod stirred up a new controversy, telling reporters that he was tested "nine or 10 times" for performance-enhancing drugs last year.
That throwaway remark raised enough red flags that Rodriguez proactively released a statement through the Yankees' public relations office late Wednesday evening, clarifying that he had exaggerated the number of tests to prove a point.
"I was simply stating just for the sake of saying that I think we have a very good testing system," Rodriguez said Thursday. "Obviously, I wasn't being specific. I was bringing to light that I think we have a very effective testing system in place, and I was commending Major League Baseball."
Under the current drug testing rules, players must be tested at least twice during the season. There are also provisions for random testing -- though it is unlikely Rodriguez would have undergone that many tests, unless he flunked a test for a stimulant.
That would have subjected him to six additional unannounced tests over the following year. A first positive test for a stimulant is not subject to discipline and is not announced; Rodriguez said that he has never failed a test that would subject him to additional testing.
"You have to be careful sometimes with your choices of words," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You can be misinterpreted. That's exactly how he sees it."
Rodriguez said that he does not know exactly how many times he underwent drug testing in 2007, but said, "It was more than once."
In his statement released Wednesday via e-mail through media relations director Jason Zillo, Rodriguez said that his quote had been taken literally and that he was not tested nine or 10 times. His point, the statement said, was that the current program being implemented is working, and a reason for that is through frequent testing.
Rodriguez said that it is "very frustrating" when some in the general public characterize MLB's drug testing policies as relaxed.
"I think the lesson is, you've got to be very, very specific with what you say," Rodriguez said. "Everything can come back and people are going to ask. I've learned my lesson."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.