Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A-Rod Hears Boos on Road

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A-Rod Hears Boos on Road

Article excerpt

DUNEDIN, Fla. - Saturday afternoon's shower of boos was the anticipated reaction to Alex Rodriguez's first exhibition game away from Steinbrenner Field.

But one fan's "Der-ek Jet-er" chant was a creative form of heckling, something even A-Rod admitted.

"I actually liked it. It made me miss my buddy," Rodriguez said whimsically of the retired Yankees captain. "He's got to be on a beach somewhere. I actually thought that in the [batter's] box."

Maybe that's why Blue Jays lefty Daniel Norris was able to zip three quick strikes past A-Rod, who evened the score with a long single.

All told, Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a fielding lapse at third base during a 1-0 Blue Jays victory at the oddly named Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. A gathering of 5,511 fans gave the park its first sellout of spring and enabled A-Rod to check another box in his comeback bid.

"I'm more focusing on playing the game," A-Rod said after his first road game in camp. "But for the most part, [the fans] have made me feel very welcome."

Yankees fans have been mostly vocally supportive of Rodriguez, coming off a full-season MLB suspension for steroids. But the laid- back Florida scene and the early game times - plus his .375 batting average - have played to A-Rod's favor.

He's also been more cognizant of pleasing the masses. Alone, except for a Yankees security guard nearby, Rodriguez signed autographs along the third base about 15 minutes before Saturday's first pitch.

A-Rod spoke of his appreciation for how the fans "have allowed me to come back into the game" by their interactions. "Not only in the stadium or if I'm signing autographs [but] even just walking around the streets, Starbucks, the mall. It's just been a pleasant surprise."

But that didn't prevent roughly two-thirds of the crowd -- one of them still pining for Jeter -- from booing A-Rod's first introduction to start Saturday's second inning. …

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