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A-Rod Returns Home

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Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees

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By BEN WALKER   AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Alex Rodriguez got booed in pregame introductions, booed when his picture was put up on the video board and booed again when 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 Friday night when Rodriguez played at home for the first time since last October. While some people stood to cheer, jeers mostly echoed around the ballpark.

With his 211-game suspension on appeal, New York fans rendered their verdict on the man at the center of baseball’s latest drug scandal.

Before the game against Detroit, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he couldn’t predict whether his star third baseman would draw a Bronx cheer or big ovation.

“I’m not so sure how it’s going to go,” Girardi said, adding he hoped “it’s not personal.”

Daniel Correa was in Rodriguez’s corner.

A Yankees fan from Hartford, Conn., Correa stood in line to get into the stadium before the gates opened. Wearing a pinstriped No. 13 jersey, too.

“Hopefully, it’s a positive reaction for him,” Correa said. “But New York is a rough crowd.”

Correa said he also owns a Derek Jeter jersey, and decided to go to wear Rodriguez’s number.

“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 AL championship series against the Tigers last fall.

The three-time AL MVP was met with mixed boos and cheers when the lineups were read over the public-address system. The boos started to get louder when the Bleacher Creatures in right-center during 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 boobirds sounded off.

Rodriguez came up with a runner on third base in the third inning and again swung and missed for strike three.

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 rearranged 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 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 Monday night in Chicago against the White Sox, hours after Major League Baseball suspended him through 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 U.S. 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.

Rodriguez certainly was the star attraction in this game. He was the focus of a story on Detroit’s clubhouse television, and a few players watched before warming up.

“Alex is a hot topic,” Girardi said.

He certainly was a lightning rod among fans. Michael King, a Yankees rooter from Knoxville, Tenn., said he’d gotten tickets to this game a couple of months ago. He came wearing a No. 3 jersey, honoring Babe Ruth.

“I wasn’t planning on seeing Rodriguez, I thought he wouldn’t be here,” King said. “I think it’ll be more boos than cheers for him tonight.”

“I think it’ll be louder than in Chicago. The fact that he lied about it, that’s why,” King said. “Facts are facts.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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