CHICAGO -- In what is basically an admission of some culpability, players' association executive director Michael Weiner said that if Major League Baseball had offered Alex Rodriguez a certain number of games in a suspension, Weiner would have advised Rodriguez to take it.
"I don't want to give a number, but there was a number that I gave A-Rod and we advised him to take it," Weiner told host Chris Russo on Sirius/XM's Mad Dog Radio. "He was never given that number."
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When Russo followed up by suggesting that would be an admission that Rodriguez took steroids, Weiner replied, "It's a question of evidence and, you know, each player has to make his own decision as to whether he used or not. Based on the evidence that we saw, we made a recommendation. The commissioner's office didn't meet it. They were much higher. And therefore we're at a hearing."
Rodriguez, who was in the lineup as the Yankees' designated hitter on Tuesday, is appealing his 211-game suspension for his relationship with the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic and impeding MLB's investigation. He is being allowed to play during the appeal process.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez went 1-for-2, earned a walk and was grazed by a pitch from Chris Sale in the third inning. The fans cheered.
"There is something wrong with that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I often think it starts from the adults. If it were their child would they want him to be hit because the kids are only going to repeat what the adults do."
Prior to Tuesday's game, he declined to talk further about the case. Last October, he was embarrassed by going 3-for-25 in the playoffs with just three singles and 12 strikeouts. After offseason hip surgery and a half-year of rehabilitation, his manager, Joe Girardi, described the 38-year-old's swing as "more explosive" following his 1-for-4 debut on Monday.
"I'm just excited I feel so much different," Rodriguez told ESPN New York prior to Tuesday night's game. "I was so bad last year. Over the last three weeks, I've swung the bat with pretty good authority. That is always a good sign for me.
"It is just going out on the field and being closer to myself on a nightly basis," Rodriguez said. "At least have an opportunity. The last two months last year, I felt like I had no chance. It feels good. Every time I go in the box, I feel like I can help the team and move the needle."
Many, if not most, of Rodriguez's teammates were eager to see him back. Closer Mariano Rivera said he plans on having a conversation with Rodriguez about everything, but he said it is not his place to seek the slugger out.
"In the end, he has a good heart," Rivera told ESPN New York. "He hasn't done the things right, but, in the end, he has a good heart. We try to do things right. Sometimes we fall short.
"That's my teammate. I love him, respect him, support him. I will do the same thing to any other member of the team."
When Rodriguez showed up in the Yankees' clubhouse on Monday, second baseman Robinson Cano said he gave him a big hug.
"We all like him in here," Cano said. "We all love him in here and we are happy to see him, happy to have him back in the lineup."
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »