TAMPA — Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez sat Thursday under the same Steinbrenner Field tented pavilion where he gave his news conference last spring to admit he used performance-enhancing drugs, an "embarrassing" day he labeled the most difficult of his life.
What a difference a year makes. This time, a relaxed and relieved Rodriguez reflected on his first World Series title and the season that helped him get a "humongous gorilla" off his back.
"It was a year that I'll probably understand 20-30 years from now," said Rodriguez, 34. "All the things that transpired in the year, from being as low as any person or any athlete could probably be to where we ended in early November, it's something I'm in awe of. I couldn't believe it was me it was happening to."
Rodriguez, who had 30 homers and 100 RBIs last season despite missing a month due to hip surgery, said he's found a niche in the clubhouse and wants his on-field performance to continue to do all his talking.
With questions about Rodriguez's failing to come through in the playoffs put to rest (for now, at least), the three-time AL MVP said he's even more driven.
"Now that you taste it, you just want to keep doing it again," Rodriguez said. "It becomes an addiction — you just want to keep winning."
Jays: Overbay realistic
DUNEDIN — Lyle Overbay, traded twice in his nine-year career, wouldn't be surprised to be playing elsewhere, knowing Toronto has Brett Wallace as a first baseman-in-waiting.
"To be honest, yeah. Absolutely," he said. "It seems like they're setting the table for the young guys."
Wallace, 23, likely will start his third professional season at Triple-A Las Vegas. But if his bat is as good as the Jays hope, the 33-year-old Overbay and his $7 million contract could eventually be gone.
NOTable: Manager Cito Gaston's wife, Linda, had an appendectomy and was to remain hospitalized overnight.
Phils: Bullpen battle
CLEARWATER — With questions about the bullpen last season, young LHPs Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona will have a chance to compete for the final bullpen vacancy.
While the Phillies will rely heavily on a pair of free agent acquisitions, RHPs Danys Baez and Jose Contreras, to bolster incumbents Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero, they opted against signing a third veteran, instead letting young players compete.
"It's just like anything else," GM Ruben Amaro said. "The more guys we can develop in our system, the better."
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.