First, he was hit with a long suspension. Then he made his season debut. He got booed, blooped a single and, all things considered, said he felt pretty good out there.
Rodriguez went 1 for 4 in his first game for New York, but the Chicago White Sox beat the struggling Yankees 8-1 on Monday night to snap a 10-game losing streak.
"I just hope that there’s a happy ending there somewhere," he said.
Rodriguez returned to the big leagues hours after he was suspended through 2014 by Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis case, a punishment he plans to appeal. The three-time MVP had been out following hip surgery.
His punishment overshadowed everything else, whether it was teammate Derek Jeter going back on the disabled list because of a strained right calf or Andy Pettitte (7-9) getting knocked out early.
Alex Rios drove in four runs, Alexei Ramirez added four hits and Jose Quintana (6-3) pitched into the seventh for the White Sox.
Was it a good day for baseball?
"A little bit of both," Jeter said. "I don’t know if you can say it’s a good day anytime you’re talking about a negative, negativity. I understand what baseball is trying to do, They’re cracking down on players."
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is digging in, ready to go toe to toe with MLB.
"We’re just getting started in this process," he said. "But for me, personally, I just want to get back to baseball, playing hard and playing with a lot of intensity. I just want to see what our team has to offer."
At 38 and coming back from the hip injury, he said he’s fighting for his life. He was welcomed back with the same sort of greeting he got on the road in the past, a series of boos and jeers amplified by the penalty announced earlier in the day.
The crowd at U.S. Cellular Field booed Rodriguez during pregame warmups and introductions. When he stepped to the plate in the second inning, the fans could have drowned out a jet.
They weren’t feeling any better after Rodriguez dropped a leadoff single into shallow left on the third pitch. He moved to third with no outs on Vernon Wells’ double but was stranded.
Rodriguez flied out in his second and third at-bats and handled a few grounders at third, getting booed every time he stepped to the plate or touched the ball.
He also struck out in the eighth as fans chanted "Steroids! Steroids!"
Rodriguez shrugged off the reaction. "I love Chicago," he said. "I love the fans here. It’s just a great town, great people. I’m just so humbled being on the field, being able to play the game I love."
Rodriguez did not deny using performance-enhancing drugs in a news conference after the punishment came down. Instead he said he will talk about whether he used PEDs at another time when he is more free to speak.
He did say he has to defend himself because no one else will.
"I want nothing but the best for Al and his family," Pettitte said. "Glad to see him back. He’s going to help this club. He’s a great ballplayer. He’s in to the game. He’ll definitely help us."
The Yankees are hoping Rodriguez can provide some sort of spark even though they’re fading from the playoff picture. They need more power for their lineup, something that’s been a particular problem for their third basemen.
Pettitte, however, did them no favors. He lasted 2 2-3 innings in his shortest outing since July 18, 2010, while matching season highs for runs (seven) and hits (11). He fell to 0-3 in his last four starts.
Rios delivered an RBI single and scored during a three-run first. He added a two-run single in the second that made it 5-0.
Rios then capped a two-run third with a bases-loaded walk after Preston Claiborne replaced Pettitte, making it 7-0.
That was more than enough for Quintana, who gave up one run and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings.
"It was just a good night offensively," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Guys were swinging it."
NOTES: Pettitte is the first Yankees pitcher since at least 1920 to allow runs in the first inning in seven straight starts within a single season, according to STATS LLC. … Besides Rodriguez, Yankees C Francisco Cervelli and minor league OF Fernando Martinez were suspended 50 games. "I think he had made strides this year as a player, and I want him to come into spring training ready to go, try to learn from what has happened," manager Joe Girardi said when asked about Cervelli. … With Jeter going on the DL, the Yankees recalled infielder Dave Adams from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also designated infielder Brent Lillibridge for assignment, and Rodriguez was activated from the disabled list. Outfielder Thomas Neal was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. … White Sox LF Dayan Viciedo jammed his left thumb diving for Robinson Cano’s single in the first inning and left the game. The team said X-rays were negative and he’s day to day. … RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-6, 2.38 ERA) starts for the Yankees, with LHP Chris Sale (6-11, 2.92) pitching for Chicago on Tuesday.