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A-Rod makes long-awaited return to game action

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Alex Rodriguez made his much-anticipated return to game action on Tuesday evening. Rodriguez suited up for the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees' low Class A affiliate, in his customary No. 13 and started at the hot corner.

He was welcomed to the field by cheers from the capacity crowd of 8,255 at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park.

"I'm really, really excited. It's been the longest rehab process I've had, for sure," Rodriguez said before the game.

This was Rodriguez's first time in Charleston, and he spoke highly of the city before the game.

"I feel really welcome here," he said. "I have never been here before, but since I have arrived, I have been treated with that Southern hospitality."

Following a short media session, Rodriguez hit the weight room, then headed to the field for the first time in 2013. He took a few swings with teammate Eduardo Nunez, who is also here on a rehab assignment.

Both Rodriguez and Nunez looked fresh while taking their hacks and fielding grounders at their respective positions.

With the game against the Rome Braves approaching, Rodriguez turned in his pinstripes for a dark-blue alternate Charleston uniform with the word Dogs in gold across the chest. Rodriguez was able to pry his No. 13 from RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique.

"I just wanted him to provide a nice postgame spread for the team," said Pedrique when asked what it took for him to give up his jersey. "It's not every day you get a Major Leaguer behind these doors."

Rain fell throughout the Lowcountry for most of the day, then seemed to stop when the Yankees legend walked through the gates. Fittingly, the rain began to fall again shortly after A-Rod stepped off the field for good.

Rodriguez's night started with a fury. Kyle Wren, son of Braves general manager Frank Wren, led off the game with a perfect bunt down the third-base side. Rodriguez sprinted in and barehanded the ball, but he just missed the speedy Wren, who legged out the single.

"I talked with my older brother last night and told him I was going to do it," said Wren. "Ten years down the road, it will be a cool story to tell my children."

Rodriguez was slotted in the two-spot in the RiverDogs' batting order so that he could get his two quick at-bats before exiting the game. Rodriguez was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate. Following a called strike and a ball from Rome starter Williams Perez, he hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

In his at-bat in the bottom of the third, he took a called strike, then swung and missed to fall behind, 0-2. Then, with the count 2-2, he took a strike on the outer half of the plate that froze him.

Despite going 0-for-2, Rodriguez was happy with his first showing.

"I had a blast, great atmosphere and great fans for A ball," he said. "For me this has been a long fight and a long climb, but I'm happy to get a few at-bats in."

He confirmed following the game that he will play with Charleston on Wednesday in its finale with Rome at 6:35 p.m. ET. He will then take Thursday off before joining the Tampa Yankees in Lakeland, Fla.

Derek Diesner is a contributor to
Read More: New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez