NEW YORK -- The boos were louder for Alex Rodriguez after his first at-bat than before it.
Appearing in front of a sell-out crowd at Yankee Stadium for the first time since he appealed his 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating its drug policy, Rodriguez heard a mixture of cheers and boos when he batted for the first time in the bottom of the first inning on Friday night against the Detroit Tigers. A good number of fans stood and cheered for him.
In the first, with a man on second and two outs, Rodriguez struck out swinging against Rick Porcello to end the inning. He then heard resounding boos.
Rodriguez ended the night 0-for-4 with three strikeouts during the Yankees' 10-inning, 4-3 win against the Tigers.
"It was probably 50-50 tonight, maybe a little bit more cheers, but it's something he has to be able to put out of his mind and be a player for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game.
Rodriguez did not speak to reporters on Friday.
Prior to the game, the Yankees delivered a letter to Rodriguez in the clubhouse, informing him he would be disciplined for seeking a second opinion with Dr. Michael Gross of Hackensack University Medical Center in late July for a quad injury, sources said.
In the third inning of Friday's win, the same basic sequence as the first inning repeated itself. With one-out and a man on third, Rodriguez entered to a mixed reaction from the fans, but after swinging through a third strike, he was booed. In the fifth, he left runners on second and third, ending the inning by flying out to right. He led off the eighth by taking a called third strike on a 3-2 slider from reliever Bruce Rondon.
In the top of the first, the Bleachers Creatures included Rodriguez in their traditional "Roll Call," in which they chant each Yankee position player's name until he acknowledges the fans who sit in right-center field. After two chants of "A-Rod," Rodriguez waved his glove.
In the ninth, with the Yankees up two runs, Girardi replaced A-Rod with Jayson Nix for defensive purposed.
During pregame introductions, the entire team predominantly received cheers except for Rodriguez, who drew a blend of boos and cheers.
The announced crowd of 46,545 was just the fourth sellout of the season.
After missing the entire season because of hip surgery and a quad strain, Rodriguez returned to the Yankees on Monday in Chicago. Throughout that series, he was booed, but it wasn't anything extraordinary.
In the clubhouse, Rodriguez has been accepted by his teammates, but they wondered Friday about a published report that claimed A-Rod had apologized to them for causing a distraction. ESPN New York and ESPN's Pedro Gomez asked seven senior members of the Yankees, and all said they had not received any sort of contrition from the third baseman.
Despite winning two MVPs with the Yankees, Rodriguez always had had a complex relationship with the team's home fans since he joined the club in 2004. The fans have seemed eager to boo him for every and any failure he has had at Yankee Stadium.
"The only thing you hope, when you walk into a ballpark -- whether you're at home or the visitor -- it's not personal," Girardi said before the game. "That's the only thing you hope. I mean, the fans are going to react the way they're going to react. They buy the tickets. It's part of it."
Even when Rodriguez doesn't play well, he is still the lead headline.
"Alex is a hot topic," Girardi said. "He was a hot topic before this because of the contract, and I think sometimes that brings a lot of this on him because people always want players to live up to the expectations and sometimes that's not even possible, to live up to the expectations. I don't know. Am I surprised? Not really, because if it wasn't this it would be something else."