Alex Rodriguez opened up the 2015 season with the New York Yankees with what appears to be much promise. After being suspended from the Majors for a full year, due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez (who often goes the nickname, A-Rod) arrived at the game and generated mixed greetings from the fans. Although most received him warmly, there were a few boos interspersed.
Since 2013, when Major League Baseball (MLB) suspended him for his use of drugs obtained from Biogenesis, his relationship with everyone around him – from fans to the organization itself – has been stormy. During the off-season, and the following year, a lot of controversy was sparked. Rodriguez entered into legal battles, trying to sue not only MLB, but the Yankees and their doctors as well. This even prompted him to storm out of a hearing in November while blaming all other parties who were involved.
Nonetheless, fans are now being treated to a different player who says that he just wants to play ball. As Rodriguez is now in the position where he needs to earn the trust of his management and affection of his fans, as well as permanence in the lineup, the Yankee veteran has taken to his return to the big leagues with much humility and contrition, and is very much being put to the test.
Rather than his normal position in the batting lineup, he was given five different spots, ranging from second to seventh, in his first six days. On Friday, he was pulled out of the lineup in the 11th inning of a 12-inning game. The next day, he was asked to play first base for the first time. Fans and management were pleasantly surprised that Rodriguez has taken all this in good stride without any complaints.
On Sunday, Rodriguez approached the plate opposite Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buckholz with the bases loaded at the bottom of the first inning with one out. This setup is all too familiar to the Yankee star who, prior to his suspension from the Majors, belted his 24th grand slam against the same pitcher, surpassing Lou Gehrig as the all time leader in that category. In addition, the Yankee legend has had a career record against the pitcher, batting .400 with two home runs out of 25 at-bats. However, since the Yankees were off to a 1-5 start with the possibility of being swept in this series against the Red Sox, rather than risk the possibility of a double play, Rodriguez played it smart by hitting the ball into the center field gap to fire off a seven-run 1st inning, leading his team to a 14-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
As the week starts, the 39-year old Rodriguez has received a warmer reception from his fans, who see much promise in his return to baseball. He still has some ways to go, however. Despite the fact that Rodriguez has apologized for actions, along with the actions of his legal team, Major League Baseball has informed him that his behavior would not be forgotten. Furthermore, management made him aware that they would not continue to pay him the large home-run bonuses which they had agreed to in his original contract.
As of now, Rodriguez is facing a law suit in the amount of $380,059 by Gordon, Rees, Scully, & Mansukhani. The amount represents legal fees in which he owes them for representing him in his fight against his suspension from MLB. He is scheduled to testify on April 24 in regards to this lawsuit. He is also required to give a deposition on his dealings with Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch, as well as his interactions with other legal representatives. Although the times ahead of him will prove to be turbulent, fans nonetheless are seeing that Rodriguez’s return to baseball will bring them much hope and promise.
By Bill Ades
Photo by Keith Allison – Flickr License