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Posted: Monday February 9, 2009 6:45PM; Updated: Tuesday February 10, 2009 5:17PM
Jon Heyman Jon Heyman >
INSIDE BASEBALL

A-Rod appears truthful with ESPN

Story Highlights

Alex Rodriguez came across well as he admitted to using steroids

The Yankees have not commented on the situation

This is the first step in a long path for A-Rod to remove the taint from his career

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Yankees executives didn't have an immediate response after hearing snippets of the TV interview on Monday in which their superstar third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs several years ago, and they may never have an official reaction.

"This is his deal,'' one Yankees source said before A-Rod spoke.

Yes, it is. This is Rodriguez's biggest moment in his storied, and now scandalized, career. And everyone around him, whether they be Yankees teammates, his entourage in Miami or his handlers, understood that this was the biggest at-bat of his life. And whatever he did, he couldn't do what he did in his now infamous interview with Katie Couric -- which was to tell one fish tale after another.

While A-Rod didn't quite knock it out of the park in his interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons, he didn't strike out, either, as so many steroid cheats have done in the past. Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03 and he apologized. He even said he was "deeply regretful." Good for him.

The Yankees are probably pleased, for the most part, with Rodriguez's performance on TV on Monday, as they wanted the truth. They made clear in conversations over the past two days with Rodriguez's handlers that the best course would be to tell the truth -- whatever that might be. And it appears that's what he gave Gammons in his first interview since SI.com broke the bombshell story that Rodriguez failed baseball's survey drug test in 2003.

Rodriguez said in his interview with Gammons, "I'm responsible for this. And I'm deeply sorry.''

Rodriguez admitted in the interview that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his three years in Texas and said he has not taken any since coming to New York. Now everyone around him will hold their collective breath in hopes that proves to be the truth, or at least isn't proven false. It certainly is a lot closer to the truth than his previous comments on this subject.

He did well. Though curiously, Rodriguez also told Gammons he wasn't sure what performance enhancer he took. That's a little tough to swallow.

And when Gammons pressed A-Rod as to whether his PED-taking period was confined to 2001-03, he answered, "That's pretty accurate." He was nervous, but the inclusion of the word "pretty" was a little troubling.

While the Yankees surely wish there was no need for an admission (and club executives were blindsided by Saturday's story on SI.com), they have more experience with steroids and HGH users than they would like and know better than anyone that the truth works better than lies.

Andy Pettitte told the truth and admitted HGH usage last spring, and a few years earlier Jason Giambi apologized for what he had done (although, he did not exactly say what that was). They both survived their brushes with drugs (and with Giambi, it appears to have been a little more than a brush).

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens fought overwhelming evidence and he is still fighting. But it's a losing battle. No one believes him.

That's the last thing the Yankees wanted to happen with A-Rod. After all, they have nine more years with him to go, and $250 million to pay him, plus $30 million in home-run milestone marks.

Rodriguez and agent Scott Boras (Boras appears to be back as the main adviser after the Couric interview advised by Hollywood agent Guy Oseary backfired so badly) spent most of Sunday night and early Monday discussing what should be said, and what should be admitted.

Boras was said to be pleased that Rodriguez made his admission and gave his apology. He knows it is not easy for baseball heroes to admit steroid usage.

On the truth scale, he was still on the side with Pettitte and Giambi and opposite of Clemens, who turned himself into the textbook example of how not to handle a crisis.

But just because he issued an admission and made an apology does not mean there's an easy path ahead for baseball's most talented player. A lot of the joy (if not all of it) has been removed from the upcoming home-run chase. The taint will never completely go away. But he took a decent first step on Monday.

Verducci: A-Rod interview raised more questions than answers
Jenkins: A-Rod's admission shows he's smarter than Bonds
Taylor: History may be kinder to A-Rod than you think
React:
What do you think about A-Rod's admission, apology?
SI Exclusive:
A-Rod tested positive for steroids in 2003
Roberts:
Q&A on breaking A-Rod story
Keith: A-Rod controversy spoils entire 2009 campaign
Verducci:
How SI's report affects A-Rod, Yanks and MLB
Jenkins:
A-Rod goes from backing Bonds to joining him in misery
Heyman: Rodriguez tainted by players union's mistake
Ballard: A-Rod becomes latest superhero unmasked
McCann: Rodriguez unlikely to face criminal charges
Gallery:
A-Rod through the years

60 Minutes: A-Rod denies ever using PED's

 
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