By Steve Ginsburg
(Reuters) - Embattled New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez apologized on Tuesday for "the mistakes" he made that led to his suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez, 39, made his apology in a written statement and said he declined the Yankees' "gracious" offer to apologize in a news conference at Yankee Stadium because he wanted his next appearance there to be "in pinstripes doing my job."
Rodriguez, who is owed $61 million by the team for the remaining three years on his contract, has not appeared in a game since Sept. 25, 2013, but said he was looking forward to spring training.
"When I go to spring training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win, he said.
One of the most talented players of his generation, Rodriguez had said he would challenge his suspension in federal court before ultimately dropping his lawsuit and accepting his punishment.
"I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season," he said in his statement. "I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be.
"To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I'm sorry."
A three-time most valuable player who has hit 654 home runs over his 20-year career, Rodriguez said he accepts "the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point."
"I understand why and that's on me," he said.
The Yankees have not shown any inclination that they are willing to trade the 14-time All-Star, who was found by MLB to have used numerous PEDs, and then trying to cover it up.
"I served the longest suspension in the history of the League for PED use," he said. "The commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same.
"The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball. I'm ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball."
Earlier on Tuesday, Anthony Bosch, the owner of a Florida business at the heart of a steroid scandal that led to the suspension of Rodriguez was sentenced to four years in prison for supplying PEDs.
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)