Yankees boss critical of Rodriguez's drugs explanation

TAMPA, Florida Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:13am GMT

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman criticized Alex Rodriguez's explanation for using performance-enhancing drugs on Tuesday.

"I like the fact more when he says he was stupid, not young and naive," Cashman told a group of reporters when asked to assess Rodriguez's remarks.

Earlier, baseball's highest paid player told a packed news conference of around 200 reporters at the Yankees training facility that he and his cousin began taking the drugs in 2001.

"My cousin would administer it to me but neither of us knew how to use it properly, proving just how ignorant we both were," Rodriguez said as he sat alongside Cashman and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Cashman said Rodriguez's decision to use the drugs when he played for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03 was "stupid."

"It was a bad decision that may cost him on so many levels," said Cashman.

"He's dealing with it, he's forced to deal with it. He's suffering, the game is suffering, the Yankees are suffering."

Cashman said Rodriguez could have been more explicit about why he took the drugs.

"The one thing he could have said was the fact he chose to do this to make himself better ... at what he does on the baseball field," Cashman said. "That's the truth.

"I don't think Alex is very good at communicating ... whether it's about talking about your game and the impact you had on it after hitting a home run or if he had a tough game at the park, let the team down.

"Anybody that's been in that clubhouse when he's trying to talk about success or failure on the baseball diamond knows that is something he is not very good at."

IMPORTANT LESSON

Despite his criticisms, Cashman thought that having to face up to his sins provided an important lesson to Rodriguez's peers.

"When they see a fallen star that has to deal with this fallout, that's the biggest prevention that's out there," he said.

"Their reputation is shattered. That's a huge deterrent."

Rodriguez, on pace to break Major League Baseball's all-time home run record, said he had accepted an invitation from the Taylor Hooton Foundation for Fighting Steroid Abuse to help their educational efforts among young people.

The foundation was formed in memory of Taylor E. Hooton, a 17-year-old high school athlete from Plano, Texas, who took his own life in 2003 as a result of abusing anabolic steroids.

"Alex has the ability to get our message to more kids," said Don Hooton, who began the foundation in honor of his son.

Cashman said Rodriguez and the Yankees had a long way to go to deal with his positive doping test from a 2003 confidential check that led to mandatory testing the next year.

"That's one step in a process of many steps," he said. "The first spring training road game, how do the fans react?

"Then you go on the road in the season. The first city, the first story. It's going to be a big story the first time into any city. This story is not dying."

Cashman said the Yankees were tied to Rodriguez through their record 10-year, $275 million contract and were determined to push forward.

"We have nine years of Alex remaining and we want it to be nine terrific years. He is a huge investment.

"This is an asset that's currently in crisis and we will do everything we can to protect this asset and move forward with this asset.

"If this is Humpty Dumpty we have to put him back together again."

(Additional reporting by Robert Green)

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)