Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he feels personally "betrayed" and "deceived" by Alex Rodriguez's use of steroids while with the club in 2001-2003, which Rodriguez admitted to in a nationally televised interview on ESPN on Monday.Hicks also said that in numerous personal conversations at the time, Rodriguez made it clear to the owner that he had never used steroids. "I never asked in an accusatory way," Hicks said. "But we had enough conversations where I came away with the feeling that he had too much respect for his body and his God-given talent to hurt it with steroids."
Hicks was ultimately responsible for bringing Rodriguez to Texas. He personally negotiated the 10-year, $252 million contract that was reached with agent Scott Boras at the December 2000 Winter Meetings in Dallas.The two were close and have remained friends even after Rodriguez left Texas. Hicks personally hosted Rodriguez's wedding rehearsal party at his home in Dallas and counseled him on a number of financial matters. They had long talks about both baseball and other matters. "This whole episode caught me totally by surprise," Hicks said. "I feel personally betrayed and deceived by Alex. As I said before, I'm shocked." Sports Illustrated revealed on Saturday that Rodriguez had failed a drug test in 2003 while still with the Rangers. On Monday, Rodriguez admitted in an interview with ESPN that he began using steroids in 2001, just after signing his record-breaking contract with the Rangers. "When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure, I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," Rodriguez told ESPN's Peter Gammons. "Back then, [baseball] was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. "I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful." Hicks spoke with Sports Illustrated two weeks ago about Rodriguez but the subject of steroids never came up. Hicks came away from the interview thinking it would be a positive story but suggested that the magazine has since obtained the information about steroids. Hicks said he "absolutely" had no suspicions that Rodriguez was using steroids while with the Rangers. "Alex was supposed to be one of the hardest working players in baseball," Hicks said. "He had legendary offseason workouts that he told me lasted five hours a day in Florida. Now I don't know who to believe or what to believe." Hicks said he was betrayed by, "just the hypocrisy. I remember our conversations about the game of baseball and the role he wanted to play in baseball and his personal objectives." Rodriguez spent three years with the Rangers, winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2003, before being traded to the Yankees. The Rangers finished in last place in the American League West in all three seasons. Rodriguez hit .305 with 382 runs scored, 156 home runs and 395 RBIs in his three seasons in Texas while winning a Gold Glove for his defense at shortstop in both 2002 and 2003. He was traded to the Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and shortstop Joaquin Arias right before Spring Training in 2004. "Overall, I felt a tremendous pressure to play, and play really well," Rodriguez said. "I had just signed this enormous contract I felt like I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level. "I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans of Texas." Hicks isn't ready to accept the apology. "I'd rather have one more apology to the owner of the Texas Rangers who signed him to that contract," Hicks said. Hicks said that he hasn't spoken to Rodriguez since all of this came to light. "I'm sure I will some time but I definitely have a sense of betrayal," Hicks said. The Rangers have had a number of former players caught up in the on-going controversy but this is the first time one of their players has admitted to using steroids while playing for Texas. Rafael Palmeiro, after leaving the Rangers in 2003 and signing with the Orioles, was the first prominent player to publicly be identified and suspended 10 games for testing positive for steroids on Aug. 1, 2005. Canadian border officials in 2001 found steroids and syringes in an unmarked bag that was traced back to Juan Gonzalez while he was with the Indians. Jose Canseco said in his book "Juiced" that he personally introduced steroids to Gonzalez, Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez while with the Rangers in 1992-94. Other former Rangers were included in the Mitchell Report for something that happened at some point in their careers. Referring to the steroids era in general and the Rangers in particular, Hicks said, "You're talking about two owners, four general managers and five managers. You're talking about what was going on in baseball, not just with the Rangers. It's an unfair generalization. "Before 2004, even if we suspected a person was using steroids, there was no way to test or no way to punish a player. It was no different with the Texas Rangers than any other player."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.