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February 26, 2009
by Ryan Hudson
I won't pretend like I know Alex Rodriguez, but I have to imagine that he was rather anxious to get back on the field and do what he does best (besides lie in tanning beds, of course): hit baseballs.
Yesterday, the 2009 season, a whole new chapter in his career, began for A-Rod, in majestic and history-rich Dunedin, Florida. He was met with boos (mostly), which was to be expected, but did his best to quiet them with a home run in his second at-bat.
"This is what I do. I know how to play baseball," Rodriguez said. "I just hope that the start of something really special for this year. I feel really good about our team."
There were lots of cheers for the three-time AL MVP, a smattering of boos and occasional catcalls from the crowd of 5,014 at mostly filled Dunedin Stadium.
The New York third baseman walked on five pitches in the first inning. Many in the crowd stood and cheered as he circled the bases after hitting a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Ricky Romero in the fourth.
"It was just a fastball I left up and he's a great hitter," Romero said. "He's going to hit mistakes and I made a mistake. I was just trying to be aggressive."
By the third time Rodriguez went to the plate, hecklers who earlier shouted "Hey, A-Rod. Where's your cousin?" and "Madonna" were drowned out by applause.
And so Rodriguez was greeted with what he surely can expect from now until October, everywhere he goes -- one can only imagine how the reception will be in Boston (Friday, April 24th, if you were wondering). If anything, it will only get worse: remember, Selena Roberts' book still hasn't even come out yet.
But he's hardly doing himself any favors. Yesterday, after the game, A-Rod climbed into an SUV and drove off. It was being driven by the cousin that allegedly purchased and injected Rodriguez with steroids, Yuri Sucart.
Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images