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A-Rod's former prep coach saddened by his troubles

Alex Rodriguez's high school coach says he still cares for the player despite the suspension.

MIAMI -- Alex Rodriguez's ties to PEDs have "disappointed and saddened" his high school coach. Still, Rich Hofman says he loves A-Rod like a son.


"I'd rather talk about Alex's great accomplishments, which are amazing. It hurts to see him get bashed," said Hofman, who coached Rodriguez at Miami's Westminster Christian Academy from 1991-93.


"All these people knocking him and writing these things about him don't really know him. Obviously, it appears Alex did some things that took place, most likely."


Hofman spoke to FOX Sports Florida from his home in North Carolina a few days before A-Rod, who ranks fifth on baseball’s career home runs list, was suspended through 2014 by Major League Baseball on Monday. Rodriguez will continue to play while he appeals the suspension.


"If someone becomes very important to you in your life and anything negative happens to them, you're disappointed and saddened," Hofman said. "Alex didn't ask me for advice, so I didn't give it to him. No matter what happens, it doesn't mean you condone it, but you still love them."


Hofman, who turns 69 on Friday, won two Baseball America national championships at Westminster and became the first high school baseball coach in Florida history to win 1,000 games. He said he hadn't spoken with Rodriguez in nearly five years.


"Not since his divorce from Cynthia," Hofman said. "She made sure to include us in things."


Hofman did take issue with Selena Roberts' 2009 book, "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez," in which Roberts reported that some of Rodriguez’s high school teammates alleged he took steroids while at Westminster Christian.


"That was disproved quickly, but it angered me," said Hofman, who has coached for 45 years.


Hofman said he never condoned PED/steroids use and even was wary of supplements and protein shakes when they first appeared.


"If you have God-given talents, eat a balanced diet, work hard and lift weights -- what you are supposed to accomplish will be accomplished," said Hofman, who added that his message to players always included a warning: "I've always told the kids, 'If you perform on a high platform, you get a lot of good things, but you also have to take the bad.' "


Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas