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Teammates back A-Rod as media frenzy looms

ALTHOUGH New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is expected to face a media frenzy this week at the team's spring training camp in Tampa, Florida, he will have the full support of his colleagues.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has promised that he and other New York players would rally around Rodriguez when the three-time American League MVP is expected to hold a news conference tomorrow (Shanghai time).

"It shows the unity of the club and I think that's real important," Girardi told reporters at Steinbrenner Field on Sunday. "I'm sure he's got a lot of people in his ear but I'll be there for him.

"Whether it's this situation or any other situation, it's important that teammates back teammates. They're there for each other, and they know that during difficult times they can lean on each other."

Rodriguez, who is scheduled to report with the rest of the club's position players tomorrow, would be addressing the media en masse for the first time since his admission of doping last week.

In an interview with ESPN last Monday, the 33-year-old said he had used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003 when he played for the Texas Rangers.

His comments came in response to a report in Sports Illustrated that he had been one of 104 players who had tested positive in a confidential doping survey in 2003.

Rodriguez, who appeared publicly at a University of Miami event on Friday, can bank on the support of teammates, such as closer Mariano Rivera and pitcher Andy Pettitte.

"It was something that, to me, it's the past," Rivera said at training camp. "It's not right, but it's the past. You can do nothing about it. You can do nothing about what you did yesterday or 10 minutes ago.

"You can learn from it and move on. We all make mistakes. The one thing that we have good is we support each other. I will support him and also the rest of the teammates, I hope."

Veteran left-hander Pettitte promised his support for Rodriguez after arriving at the camp on Friday.

"I'm just going to try to help him as a teammate any way that I possibly can, to help him get through it," said Pettitte, who has admitted he twice used human growth hormone in 2002 to try to accelerate recovery of an elbow injury.


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