Alex Rodriguez eager to prove doubters wrong

Alex Rodriguez laughs as he talks with the

Alex Rodriguez laughs as he talks with the media before Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (April1, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Opening Day is about optimism, and Alex Rodriguez had plenty of it Monday.

Back among his Yankees teammates for the first time since his January hip surgery, Rodriguez vowed to perform at a "very high" level when he returns to the field.

Standing outside the Yankees' clubhouse, he declined to comment about his reported ties to more performance-enhancing drug use, this time through Biogenesis, the now-defunct Miami- area anti-aging clinic. He said he stands by the statement he released denying any ties to the agency.

Major League Baseball plans to meet with players who have been linked to Biogenesis, but Rodriguez said he is not concerned about a possible suspension.

"At some point, I feel that everything will be good," he said.

Asked what his reaction was upon learning the Yankees reportedly looked into the possibility of voiding the final five years of his 10-year, $275-million contract, Rodriguez smiled again.

"I don't want to get into that," he said. "I want to really focus on this great Opening Day and the great game of baseball and another great season that hopefully the Yankees will have."

Wearing a Yankees cap, a workout shirt and baseball pants, Rodriguez was not interested in taking part in the Opening Day tradition of player introductions.

"When I get introduced," he said, "I want to be on the field and not look back."

As far as when Rodriguez's return might take place, he wasn't about to predict. "You've heard the same dates I've heard," he said. "But right now, I can tell you things are going well."

The Yankees have consistently said Rodriguez could return as early as after the All-Star break from his latest hip surgery, this time to repair a torn labrum and bone impingement in his left side.

Calling it "a year of opportunity for me," Rodriguez said he was eager to prove his days as a middle-of-the-lineup slugger are not over and that he's motivated by the voices that disagree.

"I love when all these people say you can't do this, you can't do that, you're done, you're old, you can't do this," Rodriguez said. "It's a good challenge to prove all you guys wrong and everyone wrong."

This was the first time Rodriguez had seen his teammates as a group since the playoffs last year because he is doing the bulk of his rehab in New York, not at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., as most rehabbing players do.

Rodriguez said the decision was not his, adding that he would have liked to have been with his teammates during spring training but that his doctor thought it was best to be close by in New York.

"It was definitely a tough pill to swallow," Rodriguez said. "I love baseball. I love being around my teammates. And I'm just glad I'm here on Opening Day to give them support because it's going to be a special year."

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