Report: A-Rod being investigated by MLB

Major League Baseball is investigating Alex Rodriguez’s statements about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, increasing the pressure on the New York Yankees star ahead of an unflattering biography due out Monday.

The New York Times reported Saturday night that investigators have contacted several of the All-Star third baseman’s associates to examine whether he used drugs for a longer period than he has acknowledged.

Rodriguez admitted in February to using steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, but insisted he stopped before he was traded to the Yankees in February 2004. But the New York Daily News reported Thursday that Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts’ upcoming book “A-Rod” says he may have used steroids as early as high school and even after he was acquired by New York.

Roberts was contacted by one of baseball’s investigators on Friday but she told him she couldn’t cooperate with its inquiry, the Times reported.

“I said that as a journalist, I cover MLB, and cooperating with them on this would be a conflict of interest, and he said that he understood the position that I am in,” Roberts told the newspaper.

A message was left Saturday night seeking comment from the Yankees.

Rodriguez, rehabbing his injured hip in Florida, took another step toward returning to the Yankees by playing defense Saturday for the first time since he had surgery in early March.

Rodriguez played third base for five innings in an extended spring training game against Pittsburgh minor leaguers. He had one play, cleanly fielding a one-hopper and then throwing out Gemmy Gonzalez at first base.

Also, Chien-Ming Wang, on the 15-day disabled list due to weakness of the abductor muscles in his hips, threw four no-hit innings in the extended spring training game.

Short hops

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar left Saturday’s game against the Yankees after getting hit in the mouth by a deflected throw. Aybar was covering second base on Derek Jeter’s first-inning steal attempt when catcher Mike Napoli’s throw bounced and caromed off Jeter’s helmet into the left side of Aybar’s face. ... The Phillies activated catcher Carlos Ruiz (oblique strain) from the disabled list, but ace Cole Hamels could miss his next start at St. Louis on Tuesday because of an injured left ankle. ... The Athletics placed right-hander Santiago Casilla on the 15-day DL because of a sprained right knee, and recalled left-hander Gio Gonzalez from Triple-A Sacramento to take Casilla’s spot in the bullpen. ... Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s eyesight improved overnight and he was in the lineup Saturday against Chicago. Saltalamacchia spent Friday in a darkened room, unable to tolerate any light. ... Injured Red Sox pitcher John Smoltz could resume throwing Wednesday or Thursday. ... The instant replay machine wasn’t working at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. ... Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was out of the starting lineup against the Diamondbacks with a tight back.