NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera says he believes Alex Rodriguez is innocent.
The retired Yankees reliever said Thursday he's willing to accept the word of the three-time AL MVP, who insists he didn't take any performance-enhancing drugs after New York acquired him from Texas in 2004.
"If he tells me something, I'm going to believe him. Definitely," Rivera said. "But again, that's me. He's my friend, and if he tells me something I'm going to believe him."
Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games by Major League Baseball on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of the sport's drug agreement and labour contract. He was allowed to keep playing pending a determination of the grievance filed by the players' association to overturn the discipline.
Thirteen other players accepted penalties, with Ryan Braun getting a 65-game suspension and the others 50 games each.