When Alex Rodriguez finally returned to the field on Monday night, the fans at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago greeted him exactly how you would expect: With a resounding chorus of boos.
Not a shock at all, and quite honestly par for the course for A-Rod in visiting ballparks over the past ten years. If the single he immediately dropped into left field was any indication, he was not a bit fazed by the reaction, either. In fact, he probably bathed in it internally. That's just A-Rod.
Of course it wasn't until Monday that we learned A-Rod would even be available for the weekend series against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium after it was announced he would be allowed to play through the appeal of 211-game suspension. But once we knew he'd be there, the biggest question on the mind of many — perhaps even A-Rod's — became what type of reception the home fans would give him on Friday night.
After a 45-minute rain delay to start the game, we finally got our answer when A-Rod came to bat with a runner on third and two outs in the first inning.
At first the reception sounded like it was split down the middle, but by the time he settled into the batter's box the boos seemed to outweigh the cheers by a noticeable margin. A margin that only grew as the game and the at-bats wore on and then reached a crescendo as A-Rod struck out for third time in his four at-bats. He finished 0 for 4.
In all honesty, it's about what I expected from the home crowd. There will always be that percentage of fans who are forgiving and supportive under almost any circumstances. You also have the fans who are strictly focused on baseball and are relieved to have the upgrade at third base.
But ultimately how the fans take to A-Rod will come down to performance and how well he handles himself in the coming weeks and months. If one night is any indication, it won't get much better. Not only did his performance on the field come up short, his performance in the clubhouse did as well. Before the media had the opportunity to speak with him, he'd already bolted and gone home.
This isn't A-Rod's first impression, but it's certainly not a good beginning to his final impression.
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