Poor performance

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:18 PM ET

TAMPA -- This is what Alex Rodriguez wants us to believe:

That he lied to CBS' Katie Couric in a 2007 interview.

That he lied to ESPN's Peter Gammons earlier this month.

But under the big top behind the third base grand stand at Steinbrenner Field yesterday he was telling the world the truth.

This is what the game's greatest player wants us to believe:

That he took what he thought was an energy booster from 2001-03, a substance called "boli," which he said can be bought over the counter in the Dominican Republic.

That he did not know if the drug helped him.

That Rodriguez, who frets so much about his diet he weighs a tuna steak to see if the measurement is accurate, allowed himself to be injected for three years without knowing what was in the needle.

That an unnamed cousin injected him twice a month for six months for each year.

That he quit using in 2003 -- after beating Carlos Delgado to win the American League most valuable player award -- when he had a neck injury and moved on to the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez said a couple of dozen times how he was young, naive and stupid.

He was so young, so naive and so stupid in 2001 that he was the game's highest-paid player after signing a 10-year, $252 US million deal with Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, another person we can add to the 'Those He Lied To' list. Oh, and he was 27 ... a young 25.

When Rodriguez recognized his teammates it was the worst bit of acting we've seen since the Gananoque summer stock under another tent.

After reading a prepared statement -- handled by his crisis management team, the Williams Morris Agency, his P.R. man and the Yankees -- he mentioned his teammates, turned to his right, where basically the whole Yankee team and coaches sat.

He bit his lip, rolled his eyes, fidgeted, sighed, opened a bottle of water, took a sip and finally looked to Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte et all, and whispered "thank you."

Pettitte may have played some word games at his apology a year ago for using performance-enhancing drugs, but for sincerity, Pettitte was a nine out of 10, Rodriguez a three. Maybe.

He told Couric that he'd never taken steroids; told Gammons he had no idea what he put into his body and accused Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts -- who broke the story Rodriguez was on the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2004 -- of stalking him and trying to break into his Florida home.

SI identified the drugs which caused the positive test as Primobolan and testosterone.

"I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs," Rodriguez told the 200 reporters under the big top.

Rodriguez said how he should have gone to college and how it was a rough year going through a divorce and winding up in the tabloids.

When you date Madonna, that sometimes happen.

The thing is the Yankees, and general manager Brian Cashman, were out from under the Rodriguez circus at the end of 2007. He opted out, he found zero takers and then went to Yankees management to broker a new deal. Now, he belongs to the Yanks until 2017. Hang with 'em.

Asked whether his stats with Texas should count, Rodriguez said it wasn't for him to decide.

"I'm here to take my medicine," Rodriguez said. Asked during the news conference what he wanted to say to his teammates: "I thank you for being here, this could be the best season of our lives."

The bottom line for Rodriguez on the field, juiced, or not, as he claims: One playoff series win, three first-round exits and ZERO World Series appearances or wins.

An old-timer read my press pass yesterday.

"You came all the way from Toronto for this crap? The guy had the world in the palm of his hand and he blew it. I'll take Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle any day. This guy is a bum."


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