NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Will Alex Rodriguez ever win over Yankees fans?
It sounds impossible, though Bombers great Bernie Williams has an idea about how A-Rod might help himself.
“Yankees fans, you know, they know talent, and they know when they need somebody to help the club,” Williams told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on Tuesday. “I think that he’s going to do a lot of good for himself by performing and just playing up to the expectations that everybody has of him.”
The 37-year-old A-Rod, coming off offseason hip surgery, is scheduled to start Tuesday for Single-A Charleston. It’ll be the first game of his much-anticipated — and somewhat controversial — rehab assignment.
“He wants to do well,” Williams said. “I think he wants to do the right thing. He wants to, in many ways, make amends to the Yankee fans (for) all the things that have happened between him and the fans in the New York.”
Fans were calling for an end to the A-Rod era even before his name was linked in January to Biogenesis, the shuttered clinic in Florida at the center of Major League Baseball’s latest investigation into performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez was benched during a nightmarish postseason slump in 2012. To top it off, he was embroiled in a “Flirtgate” controversy involving an Australian bikini model in attendance for Game 1 of the ALCS in the Bronx.
Yankees fans wanted A-Rod — and his mammoth contract — sent packing. Then came news of the injury. The Biogenesis scandal followed less than two months later. He has denied all ties to the clinic and its operator, Anthony Bosch.
“I think he wants people to like him, and I think the only way he can do that right now is probably getting all those distractions out of the way and just basically focusing on doing the job on the field,” Williams said. “And if he does that, I think he’s going to obviously do a lot of great things for himself right now.”
Meanwhile, the Yankees (43-39) have slipped to fourth place in the AL East, six games behind division-leading Boston.
New York has been starved for offense — Monday’s 10-run output aside — and especially at third base. Rookie David Adams is hitting just .178, and Kevin Youkilis was at just .218 before heading back to the disabled list.
Mark Teixeira is expected to miss the rest of the year after wrist surgery, Derek Jeter has yet to make his season debut and Curtis Granderson, just eight games into his season, suffered a broken pinkie in May. Granderson had just been activated after suffering a broken forearm in spring training.
“Obviously the team is in desperate need of some offense,” Williams said. “I’m certainly hoping that (A-Rod) would be capable of providing that for the team at this point.”
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