Welcome to Chicago, A-Rod. (Paul Beaty / Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez followed his usual routine Monday evening, hopping into a car — a Cadillac — rather than onto the team bus for the trip to join his New York Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

That said it all, despite the obligatory press-conference appearance in which A-Rod feebly explained how he’d gotten a 211-game suspension from baseball. Then, this being A-Rod, he blithely stepped onto the field for his first regular-season game this year — third in the lineup and fourth in the batting order after, essentially, pleading the Fifth — and heard boos.

Oh, did he hear boos. And they intensified with every plate appearance. Welcome to the foreseeable future, A-Rod.

(Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)

“It was a hard day today, that’s for sure. A long day,” Rodrigues said after going 1-for-4 in an 8-1 loss. “It’s been crazy. …It was good for me to get the first one behind me. For me, personally, I just want to get back to playing baseball. I just hope there’s a happy ending somewhere in there.”

For now, as he appeals his suspension, he continues to play and it’s, well, weird. It’ll be weirder Friday when the Yankees open a homestand. Maybe the dire nature of the situation he’s in will help gird him for the warm, welcoming tabloid headlines he’ll face (today’s New York Post: “Damned Yankees!) as the appeal he felt he had to make proceeds.

“I’m fighting for my life,” Rodriguez said. “I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself no one else will.”

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