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In candid interview, A-Rod 'refuses to quit'

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez told USA Today he "refuse[s] to quit" in what he said has been "the hardest fight [he's] ever had."

Hoping to return soon to the Yankees, Rodriguez is in Charleston, S.C., for a rehab stint with the Class A Riverdogs.

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"I know people think I'm nuts," Rodriguez told USA TODAY about returning to the Yankees. "I know most people wouldn't want the confrontation. Most people would say, 'Get me out of here. Trade me. Do anything.'

"I want to stay in New York. I refuse to quit.'

"Maybe it's stupidity, I don't know, but I'm wired to compete and give my best. I have a responsibility to be ready to play as soon as I can."

The last few months have been a trying time in Rodriguez's life, as the 37-year-old is recovering from offseason left hip surgery while also dealing with Major League Baseball's investigation into his alleged connection with Biogenesis, a now-defunct Miami-area clinic. Plus, the last time A-Rod was on the field, he was a shell of his former self. The three-time American League MVP had only three singles and struck out 12 times in 25 postseason at-bats last year, leading to a benching by Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

As for his hip, Rodriguez is back on the field after a long recovery. He was hitless in his first two games at Charleston, the first stop on a road he hopes ends in New York in about three weeks.

Yet his actions in workouts and on the field are secondary to his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis case. Rodriguez, who denied involvement, told USA Today his lawyers have instructed him to stay quiet until MLB's investigation is complete.

"Right now, we kind of have our hands tied," he told the paper. "It's so hard and frustrating, because we're in a world that you're guilty before being proven innocent."

Despite the swirling negativity, Rodriguez told the newspaper quitting never crossed his mind.

"You hear all of the doubters," Rodriguez told USA Today, "and that just fuels me. They don't know me. I'm not giving up. I never will. I'm not wired that way.

"This is the hardest fight I've ever had. ... But you keep getting after it, keep pushing."

Of course, Rodriguez -- one of the most decorated players in history with 647 home runs and 14 All-Star nods -- acknowledged to USA Today that his best years likely are behind him. He hasn't hit more than 30 home runs since 2008 and has missed 187 games the past 2 1/2 seasons.

"I've got to be honest with myself," Rodriguez told USA Today, "I haven't played well for a long time. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm going to go out and hit 50 home runs or any of that craziness. But I can be someone who can have a big impact in the middle of our lineup.

"And I relish that opportunity."

That, Rodriguez told USA Today, is all he wants -- a chance to return to the Yankees and help them make the postseason.

"Just to have the opportunity to put on the pinstripes and compete again at Yankee Stadium and helping my team win, it's a day that I've been dreaming about a long time now," Rodriguez told the paper. "Ultimately, say what you want about me, I'm a baseball player. That's what I do.

"And I'm not giving up."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez