A group of fans sitting in the left-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium on Monday held up signs that spelled out #FORG1V3. The Bleacher Creatures in right field called his name during the customary role call in the first inning, a courtesy considering Alex Rodriguez was the designated hitter, and the chant is normally reserved for position players.
This was Rodriguez's first game at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 25, 2013, and the sold-out crowd of 48,469 made him feel welcome. He was greeted with a warm reception when he made his first plate appearance in the third inning as his walkup song -- "Public Service Announcement" by Jay-Z -- played over the loud speaker with the lyrics "allow me to reintroduce myself."
Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with a walk during Monday's 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays. He batted seventh, his lowest spot in a regular-season lineup since he hit eighth as a rookie in May 1996. But Rodriguez has said he feels like a rookie again this season because he has to prove he can be a productive player again. He is nearing his 40th birthday and is coming off a year-long suspension for his ties to performance-enhancing drugs.
He received mostly cheers when he was introduced prior to the game, and the crowd roared when he singled to right-center field in the fifth inning -- his 2,940th career hit.
"I have to admit, it definitely felt good, that's for sure," Rodriguez said of his reaction. "I have a lot of love for the city of New York, especially our fans. But let's make it clear, the fans don't owe me anything."
The Yankees would welcome any offensive production from Rodriguez, who figures to be their everyday DH. He collected one of the team's three hits and said he felt good about all three at-bats.
"I thought he performed well, and I thought he was received well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought our fans were behind him and want to see him make a comeback. And I thought his at-bats were really good today, so we've got to keep that going."
Rodriguez said he could not recall what he was doing on Opening Day last season, but he will certainly remember this one.
"It means the world to me," he said. "I don't think I ever took it for granted, but I can guarantee you that I won't take this year for granted. Being back here, wearing pinstripes -- look, I have one of the greatest jobs in America, to be a Major League Baseball player."