A-Rod booed, goes 1-for-4 in return

CHICAGO -- As Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 on the day he was suspended for 211 games, he heard some boos and some steroid chants, but nothing drastic. Still, by no means was it positive.

In the postgame locker room, A-Rod was living in his A-Rod world, saying he liked how he was received.

"The fans were great," Rodriguez said after the Yankees were smoked 8-1 by the lowly Chicago White Sox.

When Rodriguez came to the plate, he was booed in each of his at-bats. In the first, he got jammed but managed to bloop a single just under the glove of a diving Casper Wells in left. In the fourth, Rodriguez flew out to center. In the sixth, he lined a ball to left, but not deep enough, as it was caught. In the eighth, he struck out looking.

"His swing is more explosive to me," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, comparing how A-Rod looked Monday to his playoff meltdown in October.

In the field, Rodriguez threw a little wildly to inexperienced first baseman Vernon Wells. Wells extended to his right to save A-Rod from being E-Rod. He said his defense is 10 to 12 days behind his offense.

“Defensively, [it's] probably going to be a bigger challenge for me,” Rodriguez said.

In his pregame news conference, Rodriguez refused to say whether he has used performance-enhancing drugs, though he called the seven months since the Biogenesis scandal broke a "nightmare."

"First of all thank you for being here today. I wish it was under different circumstances, but I just want to express to you guys and the fans of baseball the last seven months has been a nightmare. Probably the worst time of my life, for sure. Obviously for the circumstances that are at hand, and also dealing with a very tough surgery and rehab program and being 38," Rodriguez said in a long opening statement in which he paused for long periods and seemed as if he might become emotional. "I am thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to put on this uniform again, and to play major league baseball again."

When asked why he didn't say he didn't take PEDs, A-Rod wouldn't directly answer the question, deflecting any definitive statements.

One quote seemed to ring the most true: "If I’m productive I think they want me back," he said of the Yankees.

On Monday, Girardi felt like he saw signs of progress in Rodriguez, while A-Rod was just glad to be back on the field.

“I felt pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “From this moment on, I’m going to focus on baseball, play every game like it is do or die. Every game is very important to us.”