CHICAGO (AP) - Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate greeted by a standing boo-vation and blooped a single in his first at-bat of the season.
Hours after Major League Baseball suspended the New York Yankees star through the 2014 season in the Biogenesis drug case, Chicago White Sox fans got their say Monday night.
And, boy, did they let him hear it.
They jeered him during pregame warmups and introductions, and they really tore into him when he walked to the batter’s box leading off the second inning.
On the third pitch, Rodriguez dunked a hit into shallow left field. He made it to third base with no outs, but was stranded.
Rodriguez flied out in his next two at-bats and then took a called third strike in the eighth inning while fans chanted “Steroids! Steroids!” He also handled a few grounders at third base as Chicago snapped a 10-game losing streak with an 8-1 win over the struggling Yankees.
At 38 and coming back from hip surgery, Rodriguez said he’s fighting for his career.
He did not deny using performance-enhancing drugs in a news conference at U.S. Cellular Field after the punishment came down, and he said he will talk about whether he used PEDs at another time when he is more free to speak.
He did, however, dig in for a battle, saying no one else will defend him unless he stands up for himself. Then, he took to the field, batting fourth against the White Sox.
“There’s nothing about it that’s been easy,” Rodriguez said. “All of it has been challenging. I’m sure there’s been mistakes made along the way. We’re here now. I’m a human being. I’ve had two hip surgeries. I’ve had two knee surgeries. I’m fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself, no one else will. There’s a process. I’m happy with the process. In due time, hopefully whatever happens, happens.”
The Yankees are hoping something good happens with him on the field. They’re out of playoff position and desperate for power, especially their third basemen _ the players they’ve had playing that spot this season had a combined 32 RBIs, fewest in the majors according to STATS, and were hitting .215 with four homers.
Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, arrived at the ballpark in a dark gray Cadillac around 3:10 p.m. CT and waved when a fan shouted “A-Rod!” on his way into the stadium.
In the clubhouse, his locker was jammed with the usual clothing and equipment, and there was a scouting report on his chair.
It all looked so ordinary, yet there was nothing ordinary about this day.
The three-time MVP was one of 13 players disciplined on Monday, one of the biggest mass suspensions in the history of the game.