Girardi: Hope fan reaction isn't personal

NEW YORK -- At least the boos shouldn't faze Alex Rodriguez by now.

Rodriguez could be booed during his 2013 home debut on Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers. Rodriguez heard boos the last time he played here on Oct. 14, 2012, in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi seemingly acknowledged it could be a rough reception for his third baseman, who will play bat fifth and play third base.

"I don't really have a way they should receive [him], that's not my job. My job is these guys in that room. I'm not so sure how it's going to go out there," Girardi said. "The only thing that you hope is when you walk into a ball park, whether you're home or it's a visiting ball park, it's not personal. The fans are going to react they way they're going to react. They buy the tickets and that's part of it."

Rodriguez was vehemently booed during his first three games in Chicago, as the Yankees were swept. Rodriguez has often caught the ire of the fans since being acquired in 2004, most notably for playoff failures, including last year's struggles.

The third baseman is currently the top story in baseball as he plays while appealing the 211-game suspension baseball served him for violating the league's drug policy. Rodriguez is the only suspended player to appeal.

As Rodriguez once again finds himself in the spotlight, Girardi said he believes the fixation with Rodriguez ties into his contact. Rodriguez has the biggest contract in baseball at 10 years and $275 million.

"Because of who he is and the contract he has, no matter what the circumstances were, I think we'd still be dealing with it. It's a hot topic. Alex is a hot topic," Girardi said. "He was a hot topic before this because of the contract, and I think sometimes that brings a lot of this because people always want players to live up to the expectations, and sometimes that's not even possible to live up to the expectations. ... I think if it wasn't this it might be something else."

Friday, Tampa Bay star third baseman Evan Longoria questioned why the appeals process takes so long and will seemingly allow Rodriguez to play the rest of this year. A decision is not expected to come until after the season.

Girardi cited MLB's appeal policy when asked about playing Rodriguez during his suspension.

"Baseball has negotiated a process that says a player is entitled to an appeal and he's allowed to play during that appeal. So he's playing under the rules," Girardi said. "That's part of it and you deal with it. For me, because of what's been negotiated between the players and major league baseball, I am OK with it."

As Rodriguez has stolen the headlines, the Yankees terrible play has flown under the radar. After four straight losses, the Yankees are 11 games out in the AL East, and seven games out of the second Wild Card. They enter Friday's game 57-56.

"In my eyes, I'm well aware of where we're at, and that is the story to me," Girardi said.