After news broke that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs, his career was tarnished for the moment. A 35-minute sit-down interview with Peter Gammons did little to dissuade skeptics. However, his response to the scandal served as a valuable lesson to fellow PED users: Tell the world about your sins while you're still playing, and you can always reshape your image.
Rodriguez came clean in 2009 and is much more relaxed at the start of spring training this year, according to the New York Post. He arrived early at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday and got in some extra practice with Robinson Cano before Yankees manager Joe Girardi began full-team activities.
"It will be a lot different," Girardi told the Post. "Obviously, he went through a lot last year. He has to feel a little bit different coming into this spring training than last spring training. He seems pretty much in the same spot. He is at peace like he was last fall. He is happy, great shape and energy. It seemed like he had a lot of fun being back on the field."
While other abusers from the steroid era chose the path of denial — only to have their reputations sullied after retirement — A-Rod managed to reinvent himself by admitting guilt. When the Yankees walked off the field as World Series champs in 2009, many people had forgotten the drama of eight months prior.
In the process, A-Rod shook the stigma of being a choke artist and became the Yankees' most menacing hitter in the playoffs, batting .365 with six homers and 18 RBIs.
A-Rod has always been a scary proposition for opposing pitchers, but if he's really figured out his clutch-time demons, he could be even more frightening this season.