TAMPA – What a difference a year makes for Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez, 34, sat Thursday under the same Steinbrenner Field tented pavilion he gave his press conference last spring to admit he used performance enhancing drugs, an "embarrassing" day he labeled the most difficult of his life.
This time, a relaxed and relieved Rodriguez reflected on a "magical" season in which he won his first World Series title, helping him get a "humongous gorilla" off his back and be more at peace than he's ever been.
"It was a year that I'll probably understand 20-30 years from now," Rodriguez said. "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 racked up 30 homers and 100 RBI last season despite missing a month due to hip surgery, said he's found a "niche' in the Yankees clubhouse and wants his "bat and baseball" to continue to do all his talking.
With all the 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 to help the Yankees repeat as champions.
"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."
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]