DETROIT -- Is Alex Rodriguez a "so-called villain" or not?
During a pregame media session, an out-of-town reporter debated with A-Rod this exact question as a relaxed looking Rodriguez lounged in his corner clubhouse chair. Here is the entertaining back-and-forth.
Reporter: Coming back this season, a lot of fans, see you as the so-called "villain," you get booed a lot everywhere ...
A-Rod: The, what?
Reporter: The so-called "villain" ...
A-Rod: Who said that?
Reporter: It seems like fans see you as that ...
A-Rod: Which fans?
Reporter: Most fans, in baseball ...
A-Rod: Did you talk to them?
Reporter: It seems like a lot of fans, you disagree?
A-Rod: Everywhere I go, they have been really generous. I've been humbled by the reception I've received everywhere.
Reporter: Does it seem like you have been booed more on the road?
A-Rod: I've been booed for 15 years, buddy. I don't know if you haven't been around. It's been one long boo for 15 years.
Reporter: Do you relish that?
A-Rod: I don't know if I relish that. Look, I've played for the New York Yankees, you want to be cheered at home and booed on the road.
Girardi on A-Rod: Rodriguez is being tested for performance enhancing drugs more often than players who have never been suspended for a year for PEDs use. Still, he is putting up strong numbers, entering Wednesday he is hitting .267 with four homers and 11 RBIs. Plus, he is just two homers shy of tying Willie Mays' 660, which could mean an extra $6 million in what is expected to be disputed milestone bonus money.
Consider A-Rod's age (39), his hip surgeries (2) and his inactivity (44 games the past years), does Joe Girardi wonder what A-Rod is using these days?
"This guy works extremely hard," said Girardi, avoiding the question. "I've said all along, he is mechanically sound. If you are not mechanically sound as you get older it becomes really difficult, usually the game goes by you."
Girardi, who has praised A-Rod's greatness, was asked if it disappoints him that he is complimenting Rodriguez, even though Rodriguez has been an admitted PEDs user.
"Obviously, you don't want any of your players to do that," Girardi said. "That's not what we want. We want this game to be clean. Sometimes people make bad choices. He paid the consequences."
Girardi responded to a question about Rodriguez approaching the "milestone" and Girardi didn't dispute the fact it is a milestone, though, he didn't acknowledge it either.
"Obviously, it is a lot of home runs," Girardi said. "Obviously, there has been a lot of longevity in his career. He has played a long time. You can't just do it playing 10 years. You have to play a long time and be productive for a long time."
The last time Rodriguez approached a milestone, he was stuck on it for a long time. It took him 46 at-bats to go from 599 to 600 homers.
"That's what I don't want to happen," Girardi said. "I hope it happens quickly. He just has to relax and go and be himself and not worry about it."
A-Rod on the Mets: "They are sizzling hot," Rodriguez said.
Flurries in Detroit: There have been snow flurries all day here. It is expected to be frigid this evening.
"You worry about the grip on the baseball," Girardi said.