In spite of all the tabloid headlines urging him to just go away, Alex Rodriguez will make his New York debut with the Yankees on Friday night.
Just what kind of reception will A-Rod receive? He’s been playing reasonably well, with three hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch in 11 at-bats for the Yankees, who are 0-3 since he made his 2013 big-league debut Monday night. Even he admitted Wednesday night that he doesn’t know what he’ll hear in the Bronx, when a series against the Detroit Tigers begins. He says he’s just happy that hip surgery didn’t end his career in January.
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I was thinking about that,” he told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “All I can tell you is that it’s a day I’ve been dreaming about ever since the last postseason. Since my surgery. Since all this stuff has come out. Every single day.
“I’ve got the opportunity to put on the pinstripes and compete at Yankee Stadium once again. This is why I came back. It’s been a long time coming.”
A-Rod will play on until an appeal of the 211-game suspension he received Monday for his role in the Biogenesis scandal is heard. His manager admits he doesn’t know what to expect in a place with an unpredictable history of hospitality. (Today’s NY Post: “Enter Banned Man.”)
“I am curious what it’s going to be like Friday,” Joe Girardi told reporters Wednesday. “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 in certain situations.”
A-Rod was asked how he’d like it if he hears Bronx cheers…or worse.
“The same way you would like it.”
He reminded Nightengale that he’s “a good guy” and would “like one day for people to know it.” On the Yankees’ off night Thursday, he went out for a steak in Manhattan and posed for a photo with teachers. Earlier in the week, he apologized to each of his teammates for being a distraction. Those moves are nice, but the postseason is what matters for the Yankees and fans, who have made tonight’s game a hot ticket, have not forgotten their last glimpse of him in pinstripes as the goat of the team’s 2012 playoff appearance. Still, A-Rod says he’s just happy to be back.
“It’s been probably the most comforting three days I’ve had in a long time,” Rodriguez said. “Being around my teammates, coaching staff and manager, just having the privilege to play baseball, which is what I love to do.
“Friday night should hopefully be a very fun night.”