While the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez already seems to be in mid-season form when it comes to confusing public statements, perhaps it might be time for the Bombers to take a tip from James Dolan’s Knicks — no more interviews without a club representative standing by to intimidate clarify matters. From the New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt :

During his first interview with reporters at the Yankees™ spring training complex on Wednesday, third baseman Alex Rodriguez was peppered with questions about Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and the scrutiny he expects as he pursues baseball™s career home run record.

In defending the sport™s drug-testing program, he ended up raising questions about himself.

œLast year, I got tested 9 to 10 times, he said. œWe have a very, very strict policy, and I think the game is making tremendous strides.

The number of tests he cited is substantially higher than those mandated by baseball™s collective-bargaining agreement.

When asked later Wednesday whether he had ever tested positive for amphetamines, Rodriguez said: œThat™s not true. It couldn™t be more false ” 100 percent false.

He also adjusted the number of tests, saying it had been 7 to 10 instead of 9 to 10.

On Wednesday night, Jason Zillo, the Yankees™ media relations director, issued a statement on behalf of Rodriguez to further clarify his original comment.

œMy quote from earlier today was taken literally, the statement said. œI was not tested 9 or 10 times last year. I was just using exaggeration to make a point. My intent was simply to shed light on the fact that the current program being implemented is working, and a reason for that is through frequent testing. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.

How many tests was Rodriguez given?

œI have no idea, Zillo said.

Baseball does not discuss the testing of individual players unless they are suspended. In a telephone interview, Richard Levin, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said œtheoretically it is possible for a player to be tested as many as seven times. œThere is no limit on the number of times a player can be tested, he said.

Rodriguez said it was just chance that he had been tested so frequently.

œIt™s random, he said. œYou could have 20 or 30 or one. But a minimum of one. That™s the way it works.

If Rodriguez had been tested seven times last year, five of them would have been random. A player has a one in 4,200 chance of being selected five times for a random drug test in a given year.