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Alex Rodriguez making new friends after picking up dinner tabs on rehab assignment

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

When the New York Yankees mapped out Alex Rodriguez's rehab schedule earlier this week, they only slotted him for two games with their Low-A affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs.

For those of us on the outside looking in, that doesn't seem like a real big deal. For those who shared a clubhouse with him though, it's actually a really big deal. In fact, according to many of A-Rod's temporary teammates in South Carolina, most specifically first baseman Greg Bird, the stint wasn't nearly long enough.

Why you ask?

It's simple, really, but I'll let USA Today's Bob Nightengale fill you on the details.

As Nate Scott of For The Win points out, I guess it isn't so difficult for A-Rod to make friends after all. I mean sure, it was a long and painful process to get there. First, he had to get injured. Then he had to undergo hip surgery and six months of physical therapy to get back into playing shape. Then he had to gain clearance from the Yankees doctor, which in of itself was a process. And the final step was upholding a long-standing tradition of major leaguers picking up the dinner tab while out on a rehab assignment. But hey, it all worked out in the end.

25 down, only several million left to go. It's a start, right?

Here's more from Nightengale:

The RiverDogs certainly will hate to see him leave. He paid for the team meal the last two nights, including steaks from Outback on Wednesday. He spent nearly 30 minutes with them before Wednesday's game, providing advice to help realize their dreams of reaching the big leagues.

"It was a great experience to talk to someone of his stature in the game, one of the all-time greats to ever play baseball," RiverDogs first baseman Greg Bird said. "What he's gone through is a great experience for us. He taught us the consistency of a routine, how it starts the night before a game, all of the way to what he eats for breakfast, lunch, and gets ready for a game.

"It was just a great experience being able to play with one of the greatest baseball players ever. We all got to shake his hand and say, 'Thanks.' We'd love to have him come back."

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A-Rod has never looked happier. (USA Today)

No, I wasn't expecting A-Rod to show up, ignore his teammates and be a complete jerk throughout his rehab assignment, but it's still nice to hear he made such a strong impression on many of the Yankees young prospects.

And say what you will about the decisions he's made — even the ones that still stand a chance to come back and bite him — few have experienced the media attention he has over the past 19 years. Granted, he doesn't always handle it well, but I'm sure he has some advice worth listening to on the subject.

All in all, it sounded like a productive trip for everybody involved, even if A-Rod ended up going 0 for 4 in his limited playing time. Now it's on to Double-A Trenton and eventually Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as he wraps up his three week rehab tour, and yes, you can safely bet his soon-to-be temporary teammates are already checking out the menu to see what's for dinner.

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