Four days after he was suspended for the season for violations of baseball's drug agreement, Alex Rodriguez met with the media for the first time at a promotional appearance in Mexico and said the ban will allow him to "rest mentally and physically."
Rodriguez also expressed gratitude for the support he's received from everyone from his Yankees teammates to "retired players and players that are in the Hall of Fame" and voiced sadness that his suspension ordeal has dominated headlines in recent days.
"It's a very sad story," said the three-time AL MVP, who appeared somber as he spoke in Spanish at a press conference to open a gym he's affiliated with in Mexico City. "And we hope we can take it out of the newspapers and I hope we can start concentrating on all the good things the big league is doing with all the young players moving forward."
Rodriguez told the media that he wouldn't address his suspension and other legal issues, but he briefly talked about his future now that he's facing a season away from baseball.
"I think that in the year 2014, the league could have done me a favor because I've played 20 years without a timeout," Rodriguez said in his first public comments since his suspension appeal was rejected last week. "I think 2014 will be a year to rest mentally and physically prepare myself for the future and begin a new chapter of my life."
A spokesman for Rodriguez released a statement Thursday, putting the focus back on his legal fight against Major League Baseball.
"This process has been taxing both mentally and physically throughout the past eight months. Alex will abide by the rulings of the federal judge -- whatever he decides -- and get ready for 2015 should the judge rule against him. He will continue to move forward with his complaint which will help all players against this unfair system," Ron Berkowitz said.
As far as what happens when the suspension ends in 2015, Rodriguez said, "I have 3 years left on my contract starting in 2015 and I hope to play very well and finish my career in New York."
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games in August, and arbitrator Fredric Horowitz cut the penalty last weekend to the 2014 season and postseason. The arbitrator found "clear and convincing evidence'' that the third baseman used three banned substances and twice tried to obstruct baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic.
Rodriguez responded by suing MLB and the players' association on Monday in an effort to overturn the decision.
Rodriguez's camp said Rodriguez plans to attend spring training despite the suspension.
Earlier Wednesday, Hal Steinbrenner said Rodriguez is "a great player'' and "obviously an asset,'' but the Yankees' managing general partner wouldn't discuss the third baseman's possible return to the team following a season-long suspension.
Speaking to reporters at baseball owners' meetings Wednesday, Steinbrenner said he isn't thinking about 2015.
"I have not thought about 2015, nor am I going to right now," Steinbrenner said. "My focus has to be right now. But when he's on and when he's healthy, he's obviously an asset. We'll see what happens."
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, meanwhile, told reporters in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday he is "saddened" by the situation.
"As a teammate, you're saddened by the whole thing," Jeter said, according to the New York Post. "The whole thing has been kind of messy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.