Source: A-Rod still optimistic and focused on returning to the field

Alex Rodriguez warms up during batting practice before Alex Rodriguez warms up during batting practice before Game 4 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Oct. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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As Major League Baseball steps up its investigation into the players allegedly involved with an anti-aging clinic in South Florida suspected of distributing performance-enhancing drugs, a source who spoke to Alex Rodriguez Thursday said the Yankees third baseman is focused only on returning to the field "as soon as possible."

Rodriguez, who is recovering from Jan. 16 hip surgery, is operating under an optimistic timetable that could have him back after the All-Star break. Despite speculation about his future with the team and the remaining $114 million left on his contract, neither the Yankees nor those close to Rodriguez, 37, have brought up the subject of retirement after he again was linked to PEDs this week in a report by the Miami New Times.

"Alex Rodriguez denies taking performance-enhancing drugs during the time frame described in the story," the source said Thursday. "Alex is working diligently on his rehabilitation and looks forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible."

The same source said it is unclear when Rodriguez might speak with the Yankees or talk publicly about the allegations. Rodriguez has hired prominent South Florida attorney Roy Black, who earned an acquittal for William Kennedy Smith in 1991.

In addition to the denials issued by Rodriguez and Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, the attorney for Anthony Bosch -- the alleged distributor of PEDs at the anti-aging clinic Biogenesis -- also shot down the allegations.

"The Miami New Times Story dated January 29, 2013 is filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and misstatements of fact," Susy Ribero-Ayala said in a statement. "Mr. Bosch vehemently denies the assertions that MLB players such as Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez were treated by or associated with him."

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As those players linked to the anti-aging clinic try to discredit the story, Major League Baseball contacted the New Times by telephone Thursday in its first attempt to obtain the detailed PED records that include Rodriguez and a handful of other players, according to the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Chuck Strouse.

MLB officials want the handwritten documents, which outline the distribution of PEDs, before sitting down for interviews with the players, the next step in an investigation that could lead to possible disciplinary action and suspensions.

Strouse said the documents contain additional names that have yet to be released but might be unveiled as more evidence surfaces in the coming days and weeks. One potential hurdle to the MLB investigation: The New Times is undecided on whether it will turn over the documents critical to its explosive -- and still developing -- story.

"The bottom line is we are unsure at this point," Strouse said yesterday during a telephone interview. "We don't want to stand in the way -- we want justice for everybody here. But we're also in the business of journalism."

An MLB spokesman declined to comment Thursday when asked about contacting the New Times, saying the league would not provide details of an ongoing investigation.

Earlier this week, a source familiar with the situation said MLB could seek suspensions after interviewing the players about their involvement with Biogenesis.

The New Times has made photos of the documents available on its website and intends to reveal more, Strouse said. In one accompanying link, the newspaper shows every mention of A-Rod in the notebook, many of them accompanied by his cousin, Yuri Sucart, who already has been banned by MLB for his previous connections to PEDs.

Federal investigators also have looked into clinics like Biogenesis in the past, but Strouse said they had not contacted him in regard to the documents.

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