A-Rod zoo set to return to Bronx

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CHICAGO -- Alex Rodriguez's rough reception in Chicago wasn't a surprise. What happens to him in New York is anybody's guess.

Playing third base and batting third in the New York Yankees' 6-5, 12-inning loss Wednesday night to the Chicago White Sox, Rodriguez went 1-for-5 with a strikeout and a walk. In the 11th, Rodriguez had a chance to give New York the lead with Brett Gardner at third, but he grounded out to end the inning before being replaced in the field by Jayson Nix.

Rodriguez has hit safely in each of his first three games of the season, going 3-for-11 after returning from hip surgery and a quadriceps ailment. He also has a 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball hanging over his head, a punishment he officially appealed Wednesday.

As occurred throughout the three-game series, which the White Sox swept, Rodriguez was booed lustily before his plate appearances, and his ninth-inning strikeout against Nate Jones was applauded loudly.

Whether that carries over when the Yankees return home to play the Detroit Tigers won't be known until Friday.

"I am curious what it's going to be like Friday," manager Joe Girardi said. "I'm not sure, and I don't know what the appropriate response is. I don't think it's my right to tell people how to respond to situations. I did have a little bit of an issue with last night, when a guy gets hit (with a pitch and the crowd cheers), but that's a societal concern.

"But I think people are going to react the way they're going to react and we'll just see on Friday."

Whatever happens Friday will be the latest event in an already strange and eventful week for the three-time American League MVP.

On Monday, Rodriguez was both activated from the disabled list for the first time this season and suspended for his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami before going 1-for-4. On Tuesday, he went 1-for-2 and reached base three times, getting plunked by a Chris Sale pitch.

On Wednesday, while the Major League Baseball Players Association filed Rodriguez's appeal, former teammate Johnny Damon said on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that the Yankees' 2009 World Series title would "absolutely" be tainted if Rodriguez was using PEDs.

Predictably, neither bit of news drew much response from Rodriguez, who said he hadn't heard what Damon said and that he "talks to Johnny all the time."

"I'm just going to let all that stuff rest. We're right in the middle of it," Rodriguez said. "I do love Johnny."

Regardless of everything going on around him, the Yankees need Rodriguez to inject life into a moribund offense.

Before this week, Yankees third basemen had combined to hit four homers, drive in 32 runs and bat just .215. As a team starting play Wednesday, New York third basemen ranked 27th among the 30 major league teams in runs (423) and batting average (.240) and 25th in on-base percentage (.303).

Rodriguez didn't seem troubled by entering a lineup struggling that badly.

"I've been busy the last couple weeks trying to get ready myself," Rodriguez said Tuesday night. "Only thing I can do is try to be productive as I can to help the team win.

And thanks to the appeal that is expected to drag out through the season, Rodriguez will be around to add something to the lineup and maybe keep New York from missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

"We need him to help us. I don't think any of us thought it was going to be anything different," Girardi said. "So, as far as having a reaction, it's kind of what I expected, and it's part of the process that was negotiated between MLB and the Players Association, and you let it play out. Expect to play him a lot. We need him to help us."