Backstop hopes his defense improves

Ivan Rodriguez raised more than a few eyebrows on his first day of spring training Friday when the Detroit Tigers catcher reported to camp at 193 pounds.

Why the interest? That weight represents a loss of more than 10 percent from the 215 pounds he played at in 2004, the Detroit Free Press reported.

As a player named as a steroids user in Jose Canseco's recent book, Rodriguez's weight loss was bound to be a point of interest. Still, Rodriguez is sticking to his denials of steroid abuse.

"I have nothing to say about that," Rodriguez said to the Free Press when asked about Canseco's allegations. "They are some very serious comments he said. This is not true. I just say what I feel. I don't need to use any other stuff. I don't need it. I've been in baseball for 14 years not using that. I don't need it. Whatever comments he says are not true. I'm just going to move on and concentrate for this coming season."

The Free Press reported Rodriguez's reasoning for reporting to camp slimmer is that his defense suffered last season because of his weight.

"I felt a little heavy last year behind the plate," Rodriguez told the Free Press. "I just want to feel light. I've been in baseball for a long time, and I've been catching for a lot of years. The more that I take care of myself now, the better."