"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," the New York Yankees star said in an interview with ESPN that was broadcast Monday shortly after it was recorded.
Rodriguez, who for years has denied using steroids, was given a $252 million, 10-year contract by the Texas Rangers in December 2000.
His admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported he tested positive for steroids in 2003, one of 104 players who tested positive during baseball's survey testing, which wasn't subject to discipline and was supposed to remain anonymous.
"Back then it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid," he said. "I was naive, and I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth, you know - and being one of the greatest players of all time."
Rodriguez hit 52, 57 and 47 homers in his three seasons with the Rangers, winning the first of three AL MVP awards during his final season with Texas. Because the Rangers were uncompetitive, he pushed for a trade to the Yankees in February 2004. Although he's won two more MVP awards in pinstripes, he hasn't lived up to postseason expectations and has never been to the World Series.
"It was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions," Rodriguez said. "And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using."
SI.com reported he tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone.
"And I did take a banned substance and, you know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the culture back then and Major League Baseball overall was very - I just feel that - You know, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorry to fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then that I ever thought about substance of any kind, and since then I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that."
"I think it's a big deal for Major League Baseball because here was the player that they really had counted on to be their feel-good guy," Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts told CBS News. "Until now he had always said he was the clean one and I think most people believed that."
In a "60 Minutes" interview with CBS News Anchor Katie Couric which aired three days after the Mitchell report was released in December 2007, he denied ever taking steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance.
"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," he told Couric. I felt that if I did my, my work as I've done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level," he said.
Eye To Eye: A-Rod Speaks OutNow A-Rod's quote from his spring training arrival news conference last year seems more intriguing.
"Last year, I got tested 9-to-10 times," he said then. "We have a very, very strict policy, and I think the game is making tremendous strides."
If Rodriguez had been tested that many times, either he was selected for an unusually high number of random checks or he might have been subjected to additional tests - which would happen, for instance, if a player tests positive for a banned stimulant for the first time. A-Rod said later that it was just hyperbole - he was exaggerating.
"Right now, the game is in a very not-trusting situation with our public, with our fans," A-Rod said on that morning last Feb. 20. "Some of the things that I've accomplished and potentially some of the things that people think I can accomplish, my name has come up and will probably come up again in the future."
He was correct.
The previous year, Rodriguez's spring training arrival news conference dwelled upon what now seems to have been a relatively trivial matter: the deterioration of his friendship with Yankees captain Derek Jeter. That was in the dugout, where he did three rounds of interviews: English-language television, Spanish-language television and print reporters.
A-Rod's next public event is Friday night, when he is to be honored by the University of Miami for donating $3.9 million to its baseball program. He is due to report to the Yankees on Feb. 17 and start workouts the following day.
The slugger is seventh on the career list with 553 homers. Barry Bonds, mired in a steroids controversy of his own, is the career leader with 762 home runs. Rodriguez is 30th on the all-time RBIs list with 1,606, but could move into the top 20 if he knocks in over 100 runs in 2009. Hank Aaron sits atop the list with 2,297 RBIs.