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Photo op: Rodriguez with his kids at WBC workout

Monday, March 2, 2009

By STEVEN WINE

AP Sports Writer

JUPITER, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez has found a way to take advantage of all the photographers following him.

The New York Yankees slugger posed for pictures with his two daughters Monday before taking the field for his first workout with the Dominican Republic in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. The children arrived at the practice with Rodriguez's ex-wife, Cynthia.

Rodriguez nuzzled 4-year-old Natasha and 10-month-old Ella as cameras clicked and Cynthia watched. She filed for divorce last July, and the sides reached a settlement in September.

Rodriguez and his Dominican teammates worked out at the spring training complex used by the St. Louis Cardinals. They'll play their first exhibition game Tuesday against Florida.

The workout came one day after Rodriguez met for two hours with Major League Baseball officials wanting to speak with him about his positive drug tests from 2001-03 while with the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez arrived at his Dominican camp 3 1/2 hours before the early-afternoon practice. He emerged from a Maybach -- an elite German car that sells for $350,000 -- driven by his brother and carried a New York Yankees equipment bag into the clubhouse. When a handful of fans standing beyond the parking lot gate cheered for him, he pumped his fist.

When his former wife and children arrived shortly before the workout, Rodriguez greeted them in the parking lot.

The Cardinals stretched on a practice field as the Dominican team gathered. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said he enjoyed watching the parade of Dominican stars.

"I'm a baseball fan," La Russa said. "Pedro Martinez in our clubhouse -- that's neat stuff."

The team also includes David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes. But the biggest star was Rodriguez, whose celebrity has intensified since news of his positive drug tests surfaced last month.

The commissioner's office said Rodriguez was "cooperative" in his interview Sunday with baseball's Department of Investigations and Labor Relations Department. No further details were revealed.

Rodriguez was accompanied to the Tampa meeting by lawyers Jay Reisinger and James E. Sharp. 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 to The Associated Press because he wasn't authorized to discuss details.

MLB wanted to learn 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."

Rodriguez and the Dominican Republic will play three pre-tournament games against major league teams this week.

"He's going to have to go through traveling and be on road trips eventually," Yankees manager Joe 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."


AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Mike Fitzpatrick and AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Sarasota, Fla., contributed to this report.



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