Alex Rodriguez toughs out the boos at Yankee Stadium
New York fans pass judgment on drug cheat Rodriguez, but some are not so sure
Alex Rodriguez got booed in pre-game introductions, booed when his picture was put up on the video board and booed again when he came to bat in the first inning.
And when he struck out? Booed even more. Loudly, too.
Same thing when he fanned the next time up.
The crowd at Yankee Stadium had its say when Rodriguez played at home for the first time since last October. While some people stood to cheer, jeers mostly echoed around the ballpark as he went 0-for-4, striking out three times in a 4-3 win over Detroit in 10 innings.
With his 211-game suspension on appeal, New York fans rendered their verdict on the man at the centre of baseball's latest drug scandal. Rodriguez did not speak to the media.
"You're obviously going to have people that boo," said Brett Gardner, who got the game- ending hit. "I still don't understand people wearing the Yankees shirt pulling against one of their own guys. Everybody's got the right to like somebody or not like somebody. But still pull for the team, at least. Right?"
Made sense to Daniel Correa. He wanted to hear a big ovation for Rodriguez, rather than a Bronx cheer.
A Yankees fan from Hartford, Connecticut, Correa stood in line to get into the stadium before the gates opened. Wearing a pinstriped No13 jersey, too.
"Hopefully, it's a positive reaction for him," Correa said. "But New York is a rough crowd.
"I'm disappointed in him, but he plays for my team, the Yankees, and you've got to support him," he said.
The game was delayed at the beginning by 47 minutes, and then it was time for Rodriguez's first home game since the American League championship series against the Tigers in the autumn of last year.
The three-time AL MVP was met with mixed boos and cheers when the line-ups were read over the public-address system. The boos started to get louder when the Bleacher Creatures in right-centre made their daily roll call, chanting each player's name.
Batting fifth, Rodriguez came up in the first inning with two outs, a runner on second and the Yankees ahead 1-0. He struck out swinging against Rick Porcello, and the boo-birds sounded off.
Rodriguez came up with a runner on third base in the third inning and again swung and missed for strike three. He flied out with runners at second and third to end the fifth, struck out looking in the eighth and was pulled at third base for Jayson Nix in the ninth with the Yankees ahead 3-1.
"Alex has had to deal with stuff before. He's been booed before. He knows what he has to do and I expect him to do it," manager Joe Girardi said.
Three hours before the scheduled start, Rodriguez stepped into the batting cage. A coaching assistant pitched to him, a bullpen catcher retrieved the balls.
Other than that, he was all alone. Not a single teammate was on the field as A-Rod started to swing away. He was by himself, once again.
Rodriguez didn't speak to the media before the game. He re- arranged two boxes in his locker before heading out the clubhouse door, not pausing to talk with any of the Yankees, and quickly got to work.
Rodriguez later kidded with star second baseman Robinson Cano near the indoor batting cage and stretched with the rest of the team in the outfield. Done his workout, he signed a couple of dozen autographs, posed for pictures and chatted with fans.
Out beyond the All-Star break while recovering from hip surgery, he made his season debut on Monday night in Chicago against the White Sox, hours after Major League Baseball suspended him until the end of the 2014 season. He can play until there's a decision on his appeal - likely after the season.
Rodriguez heard loud boos during his three games at US Cellular Field. The 38-year-old hit three singles in 11 at-bats without driving in a run or scoring one for the wobbling Yankees.
"Alex is a hot topic," Girardi said.