A-Rod sports the pinstripes for first time in 2013
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez walked silently through the clubhouse on Friday afternoon, his eyes fixed upon the ceiling as he strolled to batting practice. After scribbling a few autographs on the field, he dashed back inside even more swiftly.
After a performance in which Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Tigers pitching in a 4-3, 10-inning Yankees win, he may have been content to let the results, his teammates and the fans do the talking for him.
Rodriguez did not speak to reporters after his first Major League game wearing pinstripes in 10 months, having last appeared between the white lines at Yankee Stadium in the 2012 American League Championship Series, also against Detroit.
On Friday his at-bats were greeted with rolling waves of both frenzied applause and lustful booing, and manager Joe Girardi estimated that the crowd seemed to be split on their opinion of Rodriguez.
"It was probably 50-50 tonight, maybe a little bit more cheers," Girardi said. "It's something that he has to be able to put out of his mind and just be a player for us.
"Alex has had to deal with stuff before. He's been booed before. He knows what he has to do, and I expect him to do it."
The 38-year-old Rodriguez was playing at home for the first time since officially appealing a 211-game suspension levied upon him by Major League Baseball as a result of its investigation into his ties to the shuttered Biogenesis clinic of Coral Gables, Fla.
Speaking in Chicago on Wednesday, Rodriguez had said he was looking forward to the game: "I've been waiting a long time for this day. Just again, privileged to come home on a Friday night against a tough opponent. Just really excited."
Facing Tigers starter Rick Porcello, Rodriguez struck out swinging in the first and third innings, then lifted a lazy fly ball to right field in the fifth.
Although Rodriguez was greeted with some positive reaction during each of his plate appearances, boos rained down after he was retired each time.
"I thought the crowd was great," outfielder Brett Gardner said. "I thought they responded well to him. You're obviously going to have people that boo, but I still don't understand the people wearing a Yankees shirt pulling against one of their guys.
"But, you know, everybody's got the right to like somebody or not like somebody. They're still pulling for the team at least, right? But I thought it was a great reaction, and I know he felt the same way."
Rodriguez struck out looking facing Bruce Rondon in the seventh before being replaced at third base for defense by Jayson Nix in the ninth. He is now 3-for-15 in four games since returning from the disabled list.
Shortly after midnight, Jason Zillo, director of media relations, told a crew of waiting television and print reporters that Rodriguez had left Yankee Stadium, but Gardner doesn't think the negative reception had any impact on Rodriguez.
"I think he's been through so much in the past several years, I'm not sure what he's affected by anymore, to be honest," Gardner said. "He's got pretty thick skin.
"A lot of the success that he's had is because he's been able to block out a lot of outside noise and really focus on the task at hand. He works harder than anybody, and I think he's going to be a big boost these last few months."