A-Rod saving all his hits for New York

Alex Rodriguez has yet to get a hit in his return to game action. Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Alex Rodriguez said going 0-for-Charleston in four plate appearances for the Class A RiverDogs didn't bother him.

“I don't mind if I save all my hits for New York,” the New York Yankees' rehabbing slugger said Wednesday night after his second straight 0-for-2 showing.

When you're coming off a postseason that was disappointing by anyone's standards -- much less a 14-time All-Star's -- getting out of the spotlight has had its advantages.

Back in October, A-Rod was suffering through a postseason in which he hit .120 (3-for-25) with 12 strikeouts and was pinch-hit for three times as choruses of boos haunted every at-bat.

In Charleston, Rodriguez has been a star, drawing crowds for his batting and infield practice and a small horde of autograph seekers eager to catch a glimpse of the greatest player to grace Riley Park since it opened in 1997.

Before Wednesday's game, Rodriguez spoke to the RiverDogs as a team, answering questions about his career and the game and buying steak dinners for the entire team. Later, after the game, he soaked in the spotlight with Darius Rucker, the former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman and current country artist.

One disadvantage, of course, is that wherever you go, the eyes of the nation and a ravenous New York media market always are upon you. And no matter the lines of admirers and well-wishing, camera-phone-happy locals -- 15,922 of whom paid to see him over two nights -- when you're putting together stat lines that even Rodriguez's Class A teammates would be ashamed of, you can't avoid the hard questions many have been asking.

“I think it's a process,” Rodriguez said of his road back to Yankee Stadium. “It'll take me a half a dozen games at least to start even thinking about any type of results."

When asked point-blank if he truly thinks he can be ready to contribute offensively to the Yankees by July 22, he was unabashedly optimistic.

“I hope so,” he said. “I think so. I have a responsibility and a job to do. It's the way I'm wired. I love competition and I love the game.

“Obviously there's going to be a tremendous amount of naysayers out there. I'm looking forward to going out and playing well and contributing and helping my team win. It's what I've always done. It's what I've done since I was 3 years old.”

Rodriguez will work out Thursday morning at the RiverDogs' facility, then travel to Tampa to join the Advanced-A Yankees as they travel to Lakeland, Fla., for two games. He said his schedule basically will be determined by the weather, as he'll be “chasing the sunshine” in order to get at-bats. He didn't rule out the possibility of returning to Charleston next week for the RiverDogs' eight-game homestand beginning Tuesday.

Coming back to Charleston certainly wouldn't bother A-Rod, who said he has been extremely happy in Charleston.

“I love it here,” he said. “I love South Carolina.”