New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez received a loud ovation from the fans at Yankee Stadium in the team's 2015 opener against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on April 6. Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez for the entire 2014 season for his alleged involvement in the infamous Biogenesis scandal.
Alex Rodriguez received a thunderous ovation from New York Yankees fans in his first game back after a season-long suspension.
According to ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand, Rodriguez "received the loudest ovation of any Yankees player during Opening Day introductions." The cheers overwhelmingly drowned out the boos as the fans welcomed Rodriguez back for the game against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
The fans also welcomed A-Rod "with special signs and chants," per Marchand. He batted seventh and went 1-for-2 with a walk in New York's 6-1 loss.
Rodriguez stepped up to the plate for the first top during the bottom of the third inning. A majority of the fans in attendance were on their feet, with some of them even chanting "A-Rod," per ESPN New York.
Marchand says the Yankees' "Bleacher Creatures" even included A-Rod in their roll call during the top of the first inning. This group of New York fans located in right field routinely call out the outfielders, chanting each player's name until he acknowledges the crowd. Designated hitters are normally not included.
However, the "Bleacher Creatures" chanted A-Rod's name on this day, per ESPN New York. He acknowledged their chant "with a tip of his cap from the dugout railing," per USA Today's Ted Berg.
"I love our Bleacher Creatures," Rodriguez told Marchand on Monday. "I thought it was a pretty neat experience."
In addition, fans in left field held up signs with the hashtag "#FORG1V3" in reference to Rodriguez, per Marchand.
Rodriguez told Marchand the warm welcome made him feel good. He also considered this Opening Day "probably the most special one" in his career as his mother was at Yankee Stadium to cheer him on:
"I have to admit, it definitely felt good. That's for sure. I have a lot of love for the city of New York, especially our fans.
"But let's make it clear -- the fans don't owe me anything. I've said all along during spring training, the part of feeling like a rookie is I have to earn their cheers and their respect.
"This is a special day for my family. It is a special day for my mother. I'm especially happy for her. I know she had some tears probably going into the day. Moms are moms."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who has hinted he will use A-Rod more as a designated hitter in 2015, chimed in on the crowd reaction, per ESPN New York:
"I think we live in a forgiving society overall. We live in a society that gives people second and third chances, fourth, fifth. I've seen it with some of the players when I was here early, who had a lot of chances and came back."
Girardi also told Berg he expects Rodriguez, who he said has not been a distraction, to produce for the Yankees this season:
"As we saw in spring training, it seemed in our home ballpark there were more cheers than anything else. On the road, it's a little bit different.
"There was nothing in spring training that told us he wouldn't be productive, so I expect him to be productive.
"People talk about, 'What kind of distraction will he be in the clubhouse?' What kind of distraction will he be for me?' The players enjoy having him around. He has not been a distraction in our clubhouse.
"In life, whether it's Alex or Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera or myself, we're never going to please everyone. It's just not going to happen. So if your focus is on trying to please people, you're always going to be disappointed. So focus on doing your job, and being ready to play."
Rodriguez, who has three years and $61 million left on his Yankees deal, has played in a combined 44 games in the past two seasons due to his appeal and suspension for his alleged involvement in the infamous Biogenesis scandal, per Marchand.
The 39-year-old Rodriguez has amassed 2,939 hits, 1,969 RBIs and 654 home runs on a .299 batting average during a career that has spanned from 1994 to the present day for the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, per ESPN stats.
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