Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Rapid Reaction: A-Rod 0-for-2 in 2013 debut
By Ron Aiken | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Alex Rodriguez made his 2013 debut with the Charleston RiverDogs on Tuesday night at Joe Riley Park in Charleston.
What it means: In short, not much. In limited duty, he went 0-for-2 and accounted for three outs by hitting into a double play in his first at-bat and striking out looking in the third inning before coming out of the game as planned after the frame.
Lucky 13: Rodriguez wore his customary No. 13. His Yankees teammate, shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who is also rehabbing here, wore his regular No. 26 as well. Only Charleston manager Al Pedrique, who wears No. 13, was affected.
The RiverDogs may not have been able to fully capitalize on No. 13 jersey sales Tuesday night. Back on May 11, the club gave away 1,000 No. 13 jerseys to the first 1,000 attendees in a ballpark promotion.
Leading off: With both players playing only three innings, Nunez and Rodriguez batted first and second in the order, respectively, ahead of Charleston first baseman Greg Bird, who is batting .285 on the year with seven home runs but was just 2-for-18 in his past four games prior to Tuesday night.
Challenged: On the game's first at-bat, Kyle Wren of the Rome Braves challenged Rodriguez's mobility with a bunt down the third-base line. Rodriguez fielded it cleanly with his right hand and threw strongly to first but just missed getting the speedy Wren. The second batter of the game then chopped a hard grounder up the middle at Nunez, who fielded it with ease going to the bag, stepped on it and threw to first for an easy 6-4-3 double play.
Challenging: While Nunez opened the home first with a hard grounder that snuck through into left field for a single, Rodriguez's first plate appearance of 2013 was a weak grounder to third that became a 5-4-3 double play. In batting practice, most of Rodriguez's balls were grounders to the left side.
In the top of the third inning, Nunez caught a break on a ball that could have been a double play but became a fielder's choice when Nunez, moving toward second base to step on it and throw to first, bobbled and dropped the ball, recovering barely in time to get the runner.
Alex Rodriguez officially began his rehab Tuesday night for the Charleston RiverDogs.
Celebrity owners: Gene Budig, the final president of the American League (1994-1999), is one of the owners of the RiverDogs and was in attendance for Tuesday night's game. Another high-profile part-owner is actor Bill Murray. The team's majority owner is Marvin Goldklang, who also is a minority owner in the New York Yankees.
A sort of homecoming: If A-Rod returns to the Yankees on July 22 -- 20 days from now -- the Yankees are scheduled to play the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, where Rodriguez has not been the most popular player since leaving that franchise via trade in 2004.
Southern hospitality: Tuesday marked Rodriguez's first trip to Charleston, and he told reporters before the game he enjoyed his lunch at Fleet Landing downtown and was complimentary about the surroundings and attention.
“I’m excited to be in South Carolina,” Rodriguez said. “It’s my first time here. Great Southern hospitality so far.”
Nunez was more familiar with the team and city, having appeared with Charleston in 2007.
Packed house: Almost as soon as it was announced that A-Rod would start his rehabilitation stint with the RiverDogs on Tuesday and Wednesday, tickets began flying out the door. Standing-room-only tickets were all that was left as of three hours before the game, and the same is true for Wednesday's game, which also is the RiverDogs' official Fourth of July celebration with the team on the road in Augusta, Ga., on Thursday.
The announced crowd was 8,255, not quite eclipsing the stadium record of 8,426.
What's next: Rodriguez will play here again Wednesday night at 7:05.