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Yankees teammates, manager to support Alex Rodriguez during today's news conference on steroid use

TAMPA — When Alex Rodriguez steps into a tented pavilion at Steinbrenner Field today for his 1:30 p.m. news conference about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, there will be a feeding frenzy of about 200 writers, photographers and TV cameras.

But there also will be plenty of friends.

Several teammates, including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, plan to join new Yankees A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira and manager Joe Girardi in supporting their most high-profile star.

Pettitte, who said it was "special" when Jeter, Rivera and Posada showed up last year at his similar event on using human growth hormone, said they will rally around Rodriguez this season.

"He's not on an island," Teixeira said Monday upon reporting to camp. "A lot of people think this is gonna tear the team apart. I think this is going to bring the team together."

Teixeira and Rodriguez played together in Texas in 2003, when, as Sports Illustrated first reported, Rodriguez was one of 104 players who tested positive for using a banned substance. During his ESPN interview last week, Rodriguez offered few specifics other than that the culture of using performance enhancing drugs was "prevalent" at the time and it was a "loosey-goosey" era, where "a lot of people were doing a lot of things."

But Teixeira said he had no idea of any drug culture in Texas.

"I didn't really see anything else going on, no one ever talked about any kind of steroids or anything like that," he said. "It was definitely kept quiet and I had no idea anybody was taking anything."

Whether Rodriguez will be completely candid in today's session, like Pettitte was in his 55-minute confessional, is unknown. But Pettitte said he was served well by doing so, rarely having to answer more questions afterward.

"If a person comes clean and there's nothing else to drag out," Girardi said, "it's gonna die down."

Though Girardi acknowledged Rodriguez may face other "ramifications" that would impede him from giving every detail, he talked with Rodriguez about being up front.

Said Girardi: "The truth shall set you free."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Yankees teammates, manager to support Alex Rodriguez during today's news conference on steroid use 02/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 16, 2009 9:50pm]
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