CHICAGO (Reuters) - Embroiled in a doping scandal that has sent shockwaves through Major League Baseball, New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was booed and jeered on his comeback from a lengthy hip injury against the Chicago White Sox at Cellular Field on Monday.
Playing his first game of the season after recovering from surgery conducted in January, Rodriguez received little sympathy from fans of either team just hours after the third baseman was handed a 211-game ban for alleged doping offences.
“I’m a little disappointed that he’s able to play tonight,” said Jodi Rudd, 35, a New York Yankees fan, who had traveled from Arizona to watch his team lose 8-1.
Rodriguez’s ban runs until the end of the 2014 season and although the suspension does not start until Thursday, the 38-year-old can continue playing while appealing the decision.
Los Angeles resident and Yankees fan Manuel Guerra felt the ban would signal an end to the slugger’s career.
“Major League Baseball is using Alex Rodriguez as an example of what they will not allow,” the 38-year-old said. “I’m his fan, but I think his career is over.”
White Sox fan and Chicago-area resident Rich Modelski, 59, said Rodriguez, the only one of 13 suspended players to challenge his ban, should have accepted the punishment.
“Everybody else took the suspension but this guy’s hiding behind the fact that he had injuries and that he took these steroids and everything else to get back to playing,” he said.
“Everybody else in baseball’s got injuries and there’s a lot of guys that don’t take the performance-enhancing drugs.”
Modelski’s 23-year-old son Jay said he was disappointed in the actions of a player he had grown up admiring.
“A-Rod has always been my favorite player and that’s obviously been tarnished now,” he said.
“It’s kind of a shame that a guy making $30 million a year has to stoop to this level to try and show how good he is. His talent alone should have been enough.”
Bucking the trend of negative comments, New York manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees were glad to have Rodriguez back when he addressed the media before the game.
“I think guys were happy to see him. He’s a team mate of ours. He’s a friend of ours,” Girardi said.
“For the players, this is business as usual in a sense. There are things that happen when you’re in New York that some people are going to consider distractions, but the one thing that these guys understand is it’s your team.
“You go out and play as a team, your goal is to try to win games and you deal with the stuff off the field after the game.”
Editing by Julian Linden and John O'Brien