A-Rod book tells of PEDs, relationships
Explains how abandonment by father impacted star slugger
NEW YORK -- In her unauthorized biography on Alex Rodriguez, author Selena Roberts links the embattled slugger's tabloid-like fame and use of performance-enhancing substances with a father who abandoned him and an unquenchable desire for attention.
In "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez," Roberts details a man with deep-rooted insecurities and an obsessive desire to please those around him. It also delves into details of the leaked allegations that A-Rod used PEDs with the Yankees and tipped pitches to opposing players.
Early portions of the book, which was released in stores Monday, describe Rodriguez's relationship with his father, Victor Rodriguez, who left the Dominican Republic to pursue life in New York City in 1985. Alex Rodriguez was born in 1975.
"Day after day, Alex waited for him to return," the book reads. "He would stop bouncing his ball on the pavement to look down the street whenever he heard a car.
"It was a natural response of a boy who couldn't imagine any first in his life -- first date, first driver's license, first stolen base -- unfolding without his daddy."
That abandonment is a thread that Roberts weaves throughout the entirety of the biography.
"Being an abandoned child gave Alex an identity," the book reads. "It enveloped him, and that gave him a small measure of comfort. At least he knew he was the kid without a dad, a fact that often elicited sympathy from adults. He had always been a sensitive boy; Victor's departure made him even more fragile emotionally. Neighbors recall seeing Alex's eyes brim with tears at the slightest criticism. 'I remember telling him not to play near my flowerpots,' a former neighbor, Sandra Gonzalez, says. 'He must have said, "Sorry," a hundred times, until he was almost crying.'"
Roberts goes on to describe Rodriguez's life at Westminster Christian School in Miami, where he became one of the most accomplished high school baseball players in history. But the author also alleges that he did so with the aid of performance-enhancing substances.
Citing two unnamed former Westminster players, and lacing it with speculation by Major League strength-and-conditioning coach Fernando Montes and local businessman Steve Ludt, Roberts details a Miami steroid culture in which she believes Rodriguez was enmeshed. She does not reveal what substances Rodriguez may have taken at Westminster, only that he became a part of a growing trend in athletic circles.
"Alex wasn't the only teen ballplayer in South Miami said to be on performance enhancers," the book reads. "Dozens more just like him were becoming the first generation of ballplayers to begin their careers during baseball's steroid era. He was one of the firstborn of the [Jose] Canseco program."
Following a Sports Illustrated article co-written by Roberts, Rodriguez admitted in February to using a steroid called "boli" from 2001-03, when he was with the Texas Rangers. He denied allegations that he used steroids in high school or with the Yankees, though Roberts said in a Sunday evening interview with MLB Network's Bob Costas that her reporting has led her to believe otherwise.
In a later chapter, the book again discusses Rodriguez's insecurities as reasoning for his possible use of performance-enhancing substances with the Yankees.
Roberts cites one unnamed player as saying Rodriguez was seen with human growth hormone in 2004 with former Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown, whom she says denied that charge last year through his lawyer. She also reports, according to three other unnamed players, that union chief Gene Orza tipped Rodriguez about upcoming drug tests at the end of '04.
Her details include no hard evidence, relying on sources to explain why one of the game's greatest all-time players used performance-enhancing substances.
"Alex must have constantly questioned his reliance on steroids: Do I really need this stuff? Can I succeed without it?" the book reads. "The pressure he felt in Texas was now magnified under the Broadway lights."
Back in Texas, according to the book, steroid use wasn't the only way Rodriguez coped with the pressure of his own expectations. In an effort to improve his statistics, Rodriguez allegedly tipped pitches to opposing middle infielders in the hope that they would later return the favor.
"Before the Texas pitcher's windup, Alex, with his left arm hanging by his side, would twist his glove back and forth as if turning a dial on a safe's lock," the book reads. "Then the hitter knew: a changeup was on the way. Alex would also sweep dirt with his cleat to tip a slider to a batter."
Roberts also describes how Rodriguez would contort his body to signal where in the strike zone the pitcher was aiming.
"Few Rangers were aware it was going on," Roberts writes, "but those who did were maddened by it."
In some ways, those charges are even more damaging than Rodriguez's admitted steroid use, due to their implications regarding the integrity of the game. One former Rangers player said Monday that Rodriguez would give the team's battery advice on how to pitch to certain hitters, but that he would never call specific pitches from the shortstop position as some middle infielders do.
"As far as I know, nothing like that ever came down," Rodriguez's former double play partner, Michael Young, said. "I was 40 feet away from him for three years and never saw that."
"It's hard to say anything because it's all speculative until someone proves it," said another former teammate, pitcher R.A. Dickey. "But if it were true, it would be much more disappointing to me than steroids, because you're impacting a teammate at that point for the negative. Having been there and having played on the team with him, it would be shocking if it were really true."
Some of the book's harshest critics have spoken out in recent days, after reports regarding Rodriguez's steroid use and pitch-tipping leaked into the media. Major Leaguer Doug Mientkiewicz, a teammate of Rodriguez's at Westminster Christian, told the Los Angeles Times last week that it would have been "99.9 percent impossible" for Rodriguez to have used performance-enhancing substances in high school without him and his other teammates knowing. And Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Sunday said he "does not understand why someone would write a book like that, anyway."
"I don't feel the need to read it," Girardi said on Monday. "My relationship with Alex is face to face -- his words and my words, not third-person words. To me, that's the important thing."
Roberts is the same reporter who in 2006 wrote a series of columns condemning those members of the Duke men's lacrosse team who had been accused of rape. The rape charges were later dropped, but Roberts did not issue a retraction.
Not long after, Roberts joined the staff of Sports Illustrated, where she worked with reporter David Epstein on the piece that detailed Rodriguez's steroid use. On MLB Network, Roberts defended the motives behind her book, rejecting those who charge that it was a smear campaign.
Much of Roberts' defense was drawn from a New York Times report stating that Major League Baseball investigators were looking into the accuracy of Rodriguez's statements to the league about when he used performance-enhancing substances. Rodriguez has publicly admitted to using steroids only from 2001-03, when he was with the Rangers.
"You don't investigate somebody if you just think they told you the truth," Roberts told Costas.
Roberts' book concludes with a look at Rodriguez's private life, particularly his divorce from his wife Cynthia and his relationship with pop icon Madonna in the summer of 2008.
Prior to Monday evening's game against the Red Sox, the Yankees issued a flurry of "no comments" on those contents of the book and others, preferring not to discuss the plight of their three-time MVP third baseman.
"We want to talk about baseball here, and that's why we want Alex back," catcher Jorge Posada said. "We want our cleanup hitter back. I think he's going to help the lineup to get a lot more balance. Alex is a special player, so we're looking forward to having him back."
"I don't really comment on the speculation and the accusations," said Mark Teixeira, a teammate of Rodriguez this season and in 2003 with the Rangers. "There's no reason to."
The Red Sox, who nearly traded for Rodriguez before the Yankees did prior to the 2004 season, were more outspoken on the matter.
Asked what he would do if he learned that a teammate was tipping pitches to opponents, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said: "I would beat the crap out of him. I mean, seriously. You're my teammate. I don't care if that's your brother pitching out there, we're trying to win the game.
Still, Ortiz and others throughout baseball empathized with Rodriguez to an extent.
"I don't want any team to beat us, but I also don't wish for tough times on anyone," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "What I care about is when he comes back, I hope he makes outs."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.