Behind Closed Doors

Published 1:12 am Monday, March 2, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez had a two-hour meeting with Major League Baseball officials Sunday. How much he told them about steroids is a secret — at least so far.

The commissioner’s office released a statement saying Rodriguez was ‘‘cooperative’’ in an interview with officials from baseball’s Department of Investigations and Labor Relations Department. No further details were revealed, and the statement said MLB would have no additional comment at this time.

MLB sought to interview the New York Yankees slugger about his admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03 with Texas.

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Rodriguez had two lawyers, Jay Reisinger and James E. Sharp, with him at the meeting in Tampa, Fla. Also present were union general counsel Michael Weiner, MLB vice president of investigations Dan Mullin, MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred, and senior vice president and general counsel for labor Dan Halem, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss details.

Earlier in the day, Rodriguez hit a pair of RBI doubles during a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds in Sarasota, Fla., then left the ballpark without saying whether he was headed to the meeting with MLB.

MLB wanted to speak with Rodriguez about security issues involving a trainer from the Dominican Republic and the cousin the three-time MVP said injected him with a banned substance called ‘‘boli.’’

After being lifted from Sunday’s game for a pinch runner in the fifth inning, Rodriguez spoke with reporters but declined to discuss when or if the meeting would take place. Then he got into a car with teammates Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira and left the ballpark.

Rodriguez did say he planned to be in Jupiter by Sunday night to join the Dominican Republic team for World Baseball Classic preparations. He said the squad had a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday.

‘‘I’m not sure what I’m doing. But I will be in Jupiter tonight,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘Opportunity of a lifetime playing in the WBC. I’m excited about that.’’

Before the Yankees’ game against Cincinnati, New York manager Joe Girardi declined to talk about Rodriguez’s meeting with Major League Baseball, saying it was up to Rodriguez or MLB to discuss specifics.

‘‘I’m only talking about baseball,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘I’m just excited that I have a game every day. That’s where I belong. It’s fun to be back out there.’’

A-Rod worked out at Steinbrenner Field for about 90 minutes before boarding the team bus Sunday, which left Tampa at 9 a.m. He didn’t talk to reporters after taking batting practice before New York’s 13-11 loss to the Reds. He went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

‘‘I get to see my family tonight,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘I’m excited about that. My two beautiful girls.’’

Rodriguez, after receiving a mixed ovation that had more boos than cheers, hit a run-scoring double in the first off Reds starter Aaron Harang. Rodriguez fouled out in the third and had another RBI double against Arthur Rhodes in the fifth.

To get ready for the WBC, Rodriguez and the Dominican Republic will play three pre-tournament games against major league teams starting Tuesday against Florida.

‘‘He’s going to have to go through traveling and be on road trips eventually,’’ Girardi said. ‘‘So, this can be a helpful thing in a sense. The fact he’s going to play in different ballparks might give us an idea of what’s going to happen during the year, and it may not. It also might be a good thing for him to go through.’’

Girardi thinks the support system Rodriguez has with the Yankees also will be in place during the WBC.

‘‘It’s my belief that playing for his country, those players are going to build that same wall,’’ Girardi said. ‘‘It might take a couple days, but I have a feeling a lot of those players have come out and are behind Alex. I’m hoping that takes place. We’ll have to see if that’s the case.’’

Girardi thinks Rodriguez has been able to handle the situation so far.

‘‘I think he’s come through it very well,’’ Girardi said. ‘‘I see him more relaxed every day. Really, the last five, six days I don’t think he’s changed a bit. Pretty much the same relaxed guy. The first couple days you could tell it was weighing heavily on his mind, and I’m sure it’s still weighing on his mind, but time helps everything. Probably knows how to approach it better now. I think he has done very well.’’

Rodriguez said he has received phone calls and letters of support heading into the WBC.

‘‘I’ve gotten tremendous support from not only the Dominican community but the Hispanic community all over,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘I think overall it’s going be very positive.’’