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Saturday, August 3, 2013
First Pitch: Do you want A-Rod back?

By Wallace Matthews

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez could be back on Monday. Or he could be banned. Which would you prefer?
SAN DIEGO -- Yes, I know it sounds like a dumb question.

Right now, Alex Rodriguez might well be the most unpopular man in professional sports. Certainly, he is the least popular Yankee, Joba Chamberlain notwithstanding.

And yet, times are getting desperate for these Yankees, mired in fourth place in the AL East, 8 1/2 games off the pace, and behind three other teams for the second wild-card spot, also known as a one-day postponement of winter vacation.

They can barely hit anything or anyone, and have all of three home runs since play resumed after the All-Star break 13 games ago.

Perhaps most frighteningly of all, Eduardo Nunez is now their everyday third baseman.

So really, even if it is an incredible longshot -- on Friday, someone in the Yankees' clubhouse characterized A-Rod's chances of being suspended by MLB on Monday as "99.9 percent" -- if somehow he were able to play out the rest of the season, maybe on appeal, would you accept him again?

Would you be able to put aside your personal feelings, whether they be rooted in disapproval of PED use or dislike of A-Rod, to root for him for the good of the team?

Odds are, you are not going to see him play again this season, and there is an outside chance, although I still don't buy it, that he will never play for the Yankees again.

But what if he could? Would you cheer for him the first time he comes back to Yankee Stadium? Or is there just too much damage done to ever repair this relationship, even if you thought he might be able to help the Yankees eke out a playoff spot? He hit a huge home run for Trenton in his rehab game Friday night, and even though it was off a Double-A pitcher, it showed there might still be some life left in his bat yet. So ...

QUESTION: Could you forgive and forget with Alex Rodriguez? Let us know in the comments section, or via my Twitter account, @ESPNNYYankees.

UP NOW: A slew of stuff from Andrew Marchand and Ian Begley in Trenton with A-Rod, as well as my Rapid Reaction off last night's 7-2 loss. Also blogs on why CC Sabathia is worried and why Derek Jeter insists he's OK. Also, my news story on Curtis Granderson's dilemma, torn between wanting A-Rod back as a teammate, and, in his capacity as the Yankees' union rep, wanting PED users to be disciplined.

ON DECK: Game 2 of this three-game series, Ivan Nova (4-4. 3.41) vs. Tyson Ross (2-4, 2.90) at an unusual starting time, 8:40 p.m. The clubhouse will open at 5:10 p.m. and I'll be there with lineups and pregame notes. Also, Marchand and Begley will be in Trenton for A-Rod's second rehab game, which starts at 7:05 p.m., so plan to spend your evening with us. And as always, thanks for reading.