Alex Rodriguez said he's happy to put behind him a meeting with baseball officials about his use of steroids more than five years ago.
The New York Yankees slugger reported to the Dominican Republic team Monday and took part in its first workout in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. The practice came a day after Rodriguez met for two hours with Major League Baseball officials about his positive drug tests in 2001-03 while with the Texas Rangers.
"It's really good to get yesterday behind me -- another one of the big steps," Rodriguez said. "For me, now the focus is the WBC."
Rodriguez declined to say what happened at the meeting, or what he expects regarding any follow-up.
He found a way to take advantage of all the photographers following him, though, posing for pictures with his two daughters before taking the field with his Dominican teammates. The children arrived at the practice with Rodriguez's ex-wife, Cynthia.
He said he sees his children at least once a week.
"I wish they were around every day," he said.
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.
The Dominican team worked out at the spring training complex used by the St. Louis Cardinals and will play its first exhibition game Tuesday against Florida.
Rodriguez arrived three 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.
Martinez said the media have made too much of the story.
"You guys focus on the bad stuff," he said. "I believe that there are a lot of positive things that you can look at through baseball. You're focusing on the wrong thing. Let go of the other stuff. Come on. Let's play baseball. That's what we're here for."
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.
When asked Monday if he's in an image-mending mode, Rodriguez chuckled.
"I've put myself behind the eight ball, that's for sure," he said. "I've made mistakes. I feel bad about them. But I'm also looking forward to doing good things _ not only playing good baseball, but perhaps being a messenger of the right message for kids in the future to not make the same mistake I made."
Rodriguez was accompanied at 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."