Class-A move: A-Rod buys dinners

Maybe, Alex Rodriguez’s bad rap is overblown.

A-Rod, who spent part of his career attracting heavy criticism for how he conducts himself around the media and fellow players — displayed some goodwill during his rehab stint in South Carolina.

Rodriguez went hitless in his two games for the Charleston RiverDogs on Tuesday and Wednesday, but his Class-A teammates were lauding his presence.

Rodriguez paid for the team meal the two nights he played, including steak dinners from Outback one evening, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported. A-Rod also spent time mentoring players before a game.

“It was a great experience to talk to someone of his stature in the game, one of the all-time greats to ever play baseball,” Charleston first baseman Greg Bird said. “What he’s gone through is a great experience for us. … We’d love to have him come back.”

Perhaps the most telling part of what Bird told USA Today was a comment about Rodriguez’s professionalism.

“He taught us the consistency of a routine, how it starts the night before a game, all of the way to what he eats for breakfast, lunch, and gets ready for a game,” Bird said.

Presumably, steak is part of any winning diet. Nightengale tweeted that Rodriguez will be “greatly missed” by his teammates after shelling out for the meals.

Rodriguez is expected back in the big leagues on Monday, July 22 when the Yankees host the Texas Rangers in the first of a four-game series.

Until then, A-Rod will head to Florida this weekend to get in some at-bats for the Class-A Tampa Yankees. Then he’s expected to see some game action with Double-A Trenton (NJ) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) over the next three weeks. Returning to Charleston is not out of the question either.

As for his two games with the RiverDogs, A-Rod grounded out three times and struck out once in four at-bats. The third baseman told USA Today he’s not going to focus on the results until he gets more looks at the plate. Rodriguez did give a little credit to one of the opposing pitchers, Mauricio Cabrera, who pumped a 101-mph fastball past Rodriguez to start an at-bat.

“The good news for me is I didn’t hit 101 before hip surgery,” Rodriguez said. “The kid was throwing gas.

“It’s a process. I’m most interested to see how my body reacts in back-to-back games. I felt good. To me, that’s the barometer I’m looking for, to come back-to-back games. I don’t mind if I save all my hits for New York.”

Maybe he’ll save some dinner money, too.