- Associated Press - Monday, August 5, 2013

CHICAGO (AP) - Alex Rodriguez says he’s fighting for his life.

The embattled New York Yankees‘ slugger did not deny using performance enhancing drugs on Monday in a news conference after Major League Baseball suspended him through the 2014 season. He said he will talk about whether he used PEDs at another time, when he is free to speak his mind.

He did, however, dig in for a battle, saying no one else will defend him unless he stands up for himself.

“There’s nothing about it that’s been easy,” Rodriguez said. “All of it has been challenging. I’m sure there’s been mistakes made along the way. We’re here now. I’m a human being. I’ve had two hip surgeries. I’ve had two knee surgeries. I’m fighting for my life.”

The three-time MVP was one of 13 players disciplined on Monday, one of the biggest mass suspensions in the history of the game.

All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games each. Rodriguez, however, got 211 games, due to start Thursday.

He will appeal his suspension, and that means he will likely be able to play the rest of this season while his case winds through arbitration.

With the Yankees playing the White Sox in Chicago on Monday, A-Rod was scheduled to start at third base and bat fourth. It was his first appearance after having hip surgery in January.

Prior to his first game since last Oct. 18, Rodriguez signed autographs and drew a crowd _ of both fans and photographers.

Rodriguez said “a lot” went into his decision to appeal his case but added “I’m not going to get into any of that today.”

“What we’ve always fought for was for the process, and I think we have that and at some point we’ll sit in front of an arbiter and give our case,” he said. “And that’s as much as I feel comfortable telling you right now.”

Asked if he denies using PEDs, Rodriguez said, “Like I said, we’ll have a forum to discuss all of that and we’ll talk about it then.”

If he hasn’t used PEDs since then, why not say it?

“There’s a lot of things that have been thrown to the wall, and I think when the time is right, there will be an opportunity to do all of that,” he said. “I don’t think that time is right now. And I don’t want to interfere or get in the way of anything that _ with the process.”

On Friday, Rodriguez hinted that the Yankees did not want him back and were trying to avoid paying him the $94.5 million they still owe him through 2017.

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