CHICAGO (AP) — Alex Rodriguez blooped a single into left field in his first at-bat of the season, hours after being hit with a long suspension.
It was a nice start for the embattled slugger, but that was it. The finish belonged to the Chicago White Sox.
Rodriguez went 1 for 4 in his first game for New York, but the White Sox beat the struggling Yankees 8-1 on Monday night to snap a 10-game losing streak.
Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 by Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis case, a punishment he is appealing.
“I just hope that there’s a happy ending there somewhere,” he said.
His punishment clearly was the biggest story on a day when New York’s Derek Jeter went back on the disabled list because of a strained right calf and Andy Pettitte (7-9) got knocked out early. Alex Rios drove in four runs, Alexei Ramirez added four hits and Jose Quintana (6-3) pitched into the seventh for the White Sox.
Was it a good day for baseball?
“A little bit of both,” Jeter said. “I don’t know if you can say it’s a good day anytime you’re talking about a negative, negativity. I understand what baseball is trying to do, they’re cracking down on players.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is digging in, ready to go toe to toe with MLB.
“We’re just getting started in this process,” he said. “But for me, personally, I just want to get back to baseball, playing hard and playing with a lot of intensity. I just want to see what our team has to offer.”
At 38 and coming back from hip surgery, he said he’s fighting for his life. He was welcomed back with the same sort of greeting he got on the road in the past, a series of boos and jeers amplified by the penalty announced earlier in the day.
The crowd at U.S. Cellular Field booed the three-time MVP during pregame warmups and introductions. When he stepped to the plate in the second inning for his first at-bat of the season, they could have drowned out a jet.
They weren’t feeling any better after Rodriguez dropped a leadoff single into shallow left on the third pitch. He moved to third with no outs on Vernon Wells’ double but was stranded.
Rodriguez flied out in his second and third at-bats and handled a few grounders at third, getting booed every time he stepped to the plate or touched the ball.
He also struck out in the eighth as fans chanted “Steroids! Steroids!”
Rodriguez did not deny using performance-enhancing drugs in a news conference after the punishment came down. Instead he said he will talk about whether he used PEDs at another time when he is more free to speak.
He did say he has to defend himself because no one else will.
The Yankees are hoping Rodriguez can provide some sort of spark even though they’re fading from the playoff picture and inject some power into the lineup. That’s something they haven’t gotten, particularly from their third basemen.
Pettitte, however, did them no favors. He lasted 2 2-3 innings in his shortest outing of the season while matching season highs for runs (seven) and hits (11). He fell to 0-3 in his last four starts.
Rios delivered an RBI single and scored during a three-run first. He added a two-run double in the second that made it 5-0.
Rios then capped a two-run third with a bases-loaded walk after Preston Claiborne replaced Pettitte, making it 7-0.
That was more than enough for Quintana, who gave up one run and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Besides Rodriguez, Yankees C Francisco Cervelli and minor league OF Fernando Martinez were suspended 50 games. “I think he had made strides this year as a player, and I want him to come into spring training ready to go, try to learn from what has happened,” manager Joe Girardi said when asked about Cervelli. … With Jeter going on the DL, the Yankees recalled infielder Dave Adams from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also designated infielder Brent Lillibridge for assignment, and Rodriguez was activated from the disabled list. Outfielder Thomas Neal was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. … White Sox LF Dayan Viciedo jammed his left thumb diving for Robinson Cano’s single in the first inning and left the game. The team said X-rays were negative and he’s day to day. … RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-6, 2.38 ERA) starts for the Yankees, with LHP Chris Sale (6-11, 2.92 ERA) pitching for Chicago on Tuesday.
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