February 25, 2009
This afternoon in Dunedin, Fla., Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to take the field in a game for the first time since coming clean-ish about his own steroid use.
A story on the Yankees Web site says "Rodriguez is bracing for the worst" kind of reception from fans at the Blue Jays' spring home. Signs, shouts, even slurs — and meaner than the norm.
The usually neutral AP uses the word "hostile" to describe the potential environment.
Baseball's best player, even weened off the juice, might be preparing to play ball in a hornets nest. And it's only February.
Asked about A-Rod at a dinner in St. Petersburg to promote his sport in Florida, baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he isn't concerned the game's preeminent player might be headed for a season of discontented fans.
"Look, those things will all work themselves out," Selig said. "I don’t, I can’t... look, he’s been through a lot before, so I can’t say that I am" concerned.
Selig also said Rodriguez will meet with MLB investigators "sometime in the next two, three days" to discuss A-Rod's relationship with trainer Angel Presinal, who has been banned from private areas of MLB parks since the 2002 season.
Selig's comments coincidentally came on the 35th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's career home-run record. Aaron wasn't on hand at Tropicana Field for Florida governor Charlie Crist's baseball dinner, but it would have been interesting to hear his thoughts on Rodriguez, who still has a good chance someday to supplant Barry Bonds and Aaron atop the homer mountain.
By then, A-Rod could be just as reviled, if not more, than Bonds.
Nothing to worry about, says Selig, who hopes "things go smoothly and, if not, there’s no sense in debating that right now. Time will tell."