NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez has been booed lustily since Monday’s season debut, except for when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning of the Yankees’ 3-2 loss Tuesday night in Chicago.
Will it be more of the same in the Bronx?
The reeling Bombers are off Thursday and then open a three-game series against AL Central-leading Detroit on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. It will be the first home game for Rodriguez since his 211-game suspension was announced.
“I am curious what it’s going to be like Friday,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I’m not sure. And I don’t really know what the appropriate response is. I don’t think it’s my right to tell people how to respond certain situations.”
Asked how he expects to be received, Rodriguez said, “I’m not sure.”
How would he like the crowd to react?
“Same way you would like them,” Rodriguez said. “Again, I’m just super excited to come home, put on the pinstripes and play for the greatest fans in baseball.”
Rodriguez was suspended through the 2014 season on Monday when the league penalized 13 players following an investigation into Biogenesis of America, a shuttled Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
A-Rod wasn’t exactly popular in New York before the whole Biogenesis mess. But the Bleacher Creatures in Section 203 vowed to include him in roll call.
“Not for nothing, I feel like the guy needs a little bit of love,” Bleacher Creature “Bald Vinny” Milano told CBSNewYork.com. “It feels like nobody’s in his corner. For that brief minute we can show him that, yes, we’re in your corner, we’ve got your back. If you’re fighting for the Yankees and you’re trying to help us win, God damn it I’m gonna yell for you.”
Still, Bald Vinny expects A-Rod to get booed at home.
“This guy gets booed when he goes to the supermarket. Are you kidding me?” he said. “There’s no way he’s not getting booed. I feel like he gets booed in his own apartment complex. He gets booed constantly. No question about it, he’s definitely getting booed, which I think is kind of all the more reason why we have to roll-call him.”
The Major League Baseball Players Association formally appealed Rodriguez’s ban Wednesday, sending the case to an independent arbitrator.
Rodriguez, who was back at third base Wednesday night, said he had “no reaction” to the filing of the grievance.
“I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be any different,” Girardi said. “As far as having a reaction, it’s kind of what I expected. It’s part of the process that was negotiated between MLB and the players’ association and you let it play out. I expect him to play a lot. We need him to help us.”
Rodriguez’s punishment was scheduled to begin Thursday, but he is allowed to keep playing until the grievance is heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. He isn’t expected to rule until November or December at the earliest.
Rodriguez, who agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees in December 2007, is the majors’ active leader with 647 career homers. He helped New York win the 2009 World Series, batting .365 with six homers and 18 RBIs in the postseason that year.
In an interview on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, former teammate Johnny Damon said Wednesday that title would be diminished if Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs during the playoff run.
“I really haven’t gotten to think that far, but if that’s how he was able to hit in the postseason, like he did that year, then yeah, absolutely,” said Damon, who has been friends with Rodriguez since they were teenagers. “Then you start going and saying, ‘Well, was anybody on their team cheating?’
“There’s just so many different factors that determine if a team wins, and A-Rod was a huge determining factor.”
Asked about Damon’s comments, Rodriguez said he hadn’t seen what he had said.
“I talk to Johnny all the time so no disappointment whatsoever,” Rodriguez said.
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