TAMPA — Although commissioner Bud Selig stopped short of suspending Alex Rodriguez on Thursday, he scolded him in a statement, saying the Yankees' All-Star third baseman "shamed the game" by using performance-enhancing drugs and "will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation."
Selig had told USA Today on Wednesday that he might consider punishing Rodriguez. In Thursday's statement, Selig pointed out Rodriguez's admission was that he used banned substances from 2001 to 2003, before they were outlawed in the collective bargaining agreement. The players' union would challenge any attempts to punish Rodriguez because the penalty phase of the testing policy was not implemented until 2004.
"It is important to remember that these recent revelations relate to preprogram activity," Selig said.
Meanwhile, general manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees will support Rodriguez in his "major crisis," acknowledging they'll have to deal with it for a while, and only time will tell whether the resulting distraction will have an impact on their on-field success this year.
"I know it's not going to leave us; it's not like we can run from it," Cashman said. "We just have to run toward it and deal with it."
Manager Joe Girardi said Thursday at the team's spring training complex in Tampa that he expects teammates will rally around Rodriguez, adding his previous dealings with off-the-field adversity will help in having another good season. Girardi was "surprised" but not angry when he found out about Rodriguez's 2003 positive test — Rodriguez admitted Monday in an ESPN interview that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with the Rangers from 2001 to 2003 — and believes Rodriguez when he says he has been clean since he joined the Yankees in 2004.
Cashman, however, wasn't quite ready to say so with such confidence. With the steroid issue hanging over the game the past few years, Cashman said, "I'm not confident about anything in the past anymore.
"From (2004) on, we've had the testing procedures in place — that's the best I can go off of," he added. "I'm not here to represent that I'm confident about anything, of anybody. I think we've lived through a tough stretch that shattered that confidence level. If you asked me that question five years ago, I'd be giving you a different answer. But I've been educated quite a bit, unfortunately, over this course of time."
• Asked if he knew then what he knows now, would he have traded for Rodriguez, Cashman said: "You can't take us back that way." Cashman added that he doesn't plan to ask other players if they tested positive in Major League Baseball's supposedly confidential 2003 survey testing program, the results of which Sports Illustrated cited as part of its report on Rodriguez. Cashman believes results should remain anonymous.
• Although Girardi doesn't expect or require one, he said Rodriguez has not apologized to him (they have traded calls and text messages). Girardi doesn't know if Rodriguez plans to address the team. Rodriguez is expected to address the media when he reports, between today and Tuesday.
• Girardi said that in terms of Rodriguez's legacy, there is some trust that has to be rebuilt. He said he's "disappointed" with what's happened to the game and believes everyone, including himself, was "negligent" in not staying ahead of the curve on the steroid issue.
• Girardi believes a lot of good can come out of Rodriguez's recent admission, with Rodriguez now having a great "platform" on the issue.
• Girardi agreed that he likely will not be the manager in 2010 if the Yankees don't make the playoffs: "I don't think about that, but you're probably right."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.