After serving a 162-game suspension last season, New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez played in his first regular-season game since September 2013. Given the circumstances surrounding his situation, there was considerable intrigue over how the home crowd would react to seeing the 39-year-old back in pinstripes.
After being announced in the stadium, Rodriguez received a "warm hand," according to announcer Michael Kay. Some fans even stood up and applauded as A-Rod stepped to the plate.
It's worth noting that Rodriguez came out to Jay Z's "Public Service Announcement." The song begins with the line "allow me to reintroduce myself," so it was a nice touch from Rodriguez.
[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]
His first at-bat went fairly well. After falling into a 1-2 hole, Rodriguez was able to work the count full. If you listened closely, you could hear some fans chanting "A-Rod" during the at-bat. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Rodriguez walked to lead off the inning. He was left stranded at first base.
During the at-bat, some fans in the outfield held up a "#Forg1v3" sign.
Yankees fans forgiving… pic.twitter.com/1jqWOmXF6N
— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) April 6, 2015
It’s been a rough offseason for Rodriguez. After he was reinstated, it was unclear whether the Yankees would welcome him back. The club reportedly rejected a face-to-face meeting with Rodriguez early in the offseason, only to relent later.
There were also reports that some officials were upset after Rodriguez reported to spring camp early. A-Rod said all the right things, showed he could still play a little and those issues seemed to go away as the season neared.
Rodriguez even wrote an apology letter to fans, though it’s unclear how that was perceived. He attempted to rehabilitate his image, but admitted that he knew fans probably would not take his apology seriously.
For one at-bat, it seemed to work. If Rodriguez gets off to a poor start, it will be interesting to see how long the home crowd sticks with him. We already know he’ll be booed heavily when New York goes on the road.
For now, though this was an encouraging start. The home fans are willing to embrace Rodriguez, at least for now, and that will only get better if he continues to reach base.
It's been a strange offseason, but A-Rod is back. After all the drama, he's probably just glad to be playing in actual games again.
- - - - - - -