TAMPA (CBSMiami/AP) — The road back to the MLB has been a long and winding one for Alex Rodriguez.READ MORE: Be Prepared: Florida's Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday Begins Saturday
The 39-year-old’s journey reached an important landmark on Wednesday in Tampa.
Rodriguez lined a single into short left field in his return to the New York Yankees after a 17-month absence and went 1 for 2 with a walk.
Greeted by a 10-second mix of boos and cheers as he stepped into the batter’s box for his first game following a one-year drug suspension, Rodriguez was wearing the Yankees’ white uniform with pinstripes for the team’s spring training home opener rather than the usual dark blue jersey used in exhibition games.
He swung past a pair of 91 mph pitches from Philadelphia’s Kevin Slowey in the first inning and then singled on an 89 mph offering that was over the plate. That drew cheers from fans at Steinbrenner Field on a sunny afternoon with a temperature in the low 80s.
Rodriguez has had success against Slowey, going 4 for 9 during the regular season with two doubles and a home run.READ MORE: Condo Reform Measure Introduced During Florida Special Session On Property Insurance
When Rodriguez came up again in the third, he grounded a 96 mph fastball from reliever Paul Clemens to shortstop for an inning-ending forceout. He walked on a full count in the sixth against Ethan Martin, loading the bases with no outs and the Yankees trailing 2-0.
There appeared to be few fans wearing shirts with Rodriguez’s No. 13; there was a scattering of spectators with the No. 2 of Derek Jeter, the Yankees captain who retired at the end of last season.
Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, served a suspension for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract. The three-time AL MVP is owed $61 million by the Yankees for the final three seasons of his contract.
He has lost his third base job and is competing for at-bats at DH and as a backup at third and first base.
Rodriguez received mostly cheers but some boos and loud whistles when he ran out during the pregame introductions, following new shortstop Didi Gregorius and before first baseman Mark Teixeira.
He was in the on-deck circle for the start of the bottom half before Gregorius, who led off the inning.MORE NEWS: Broward Dive Rescue Teams Come Together To Investigate, Recover Sunken Vehicles From Deerfield Beach Lake
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)