"He's still going to be the Alex that we can count on and be there for us," Chamberlain said Wednesday after working out at the Yankees' minor league complex. "He's going to be a friend forever. You look at it that way and you understand what it's about and go on. He's going to go and play everyday like he always does. He's one the greatest players to ever play."
In an interview Monday with ESPN, Rodriguez admitted that he used banned substances while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. The three-time AL MVP was responding to a weekend report by Sports Illustrated that he had tested positive during baseball's anonymous survey in 2003.
Chamberlain is at spring training following a turbulent offseason. He was charged with first-offense drunken driving and having an open alcohol container after getting pulled over Oct. 18 by the Nebraska State Patrol on the outskirts of Lincoln.
"It's just being a human being. Everybody makes mistakes, but also understand it's about being a man and admitting mistakes," Chamberlain said. "You just have to admit it and move on and become a better person for it. I've become a better person for everything I've gone through."
The right-hander has spoken with youth groups on a regular basis since his arrest.
Chamberlain said the Yankees are starting spring training with the mind-set "that we're always the team to beat." New York's stretch of 13 straight playoff berths ended with a third-place finish behind Boston and American League champion Tampa Bay in the AL East last season.
"We've got to hunt a little bit, but we're always going to be the hunted because of who we are," Chamberlain said. "We understand that. We always go with the mind-set that we are the best, and that's the way he have to play."
Chamberlain will have his sixth bullpen session Thursday, and the second one in which he will use all of his pitches. Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training on Friday.
Former Yankees infielder Luis Sojo will return for his fourth season as the manager at Class A Tampa. Josh Paul will manage short-season Class A Staten Island. Tom Slater is the new manager for the Gulf Coast League Yankees. Last year's GCL manager, Jody Reed, is replacing new Yankees coach Mick Kelleher as the player development defensive coordinator.