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A-Rod calls Bronx return 'awesome'

NEW YORK -- Embattled New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received some cheers on Friday night in his first game back at Yankee Stadium. But he also heard a heavy dose of boos, particularly after his three strikeouts.

So what did Rodriguez himself make of the fan reaction?

"It was awesome, it was just an amazing experience," Rodriguez said Saturday morning before the Yankees hosted the Detroit Tigers in a matinee game. "The fans were incredible. Such great energy and such a great response. It was pretty overwhelming. I was having a hard time keeping my emotions in check."

Friday night was Rodriguez's first home game since he appealed his 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating its drug policy.

Rodriguez, who is out of the lineup Saturday for what manager Joe Girardi said was for precautionary purposes, received a mix of cheers and boos upon introduction and before his first at-bat Friday night. But he was booed heartily after each of his three strikeouts. He finished 0-for-4 in the Yankees' 4-3 extra-inning win over Detroit.

Rodriguez thought the fans' reaction was "so much better than I ever even dreamed of."

He added: "I just felt the love walking around the city. What people were screaming, (it was) pretty incredible. This city is, it's the greatest city in the world."

Rodriguez was not surprised that some fans in the sellout crowd of 46,545 decided to boo him.

"For the last 14 years, there's always been a mix. It's not going to be, I mean do you ever get 100 percent on anything? Even Chicago was a mix," he said, referring to his season debut earlier this week. "Boston is a mix. Well, maybe not Boston. No mix in Boston. But I was overwhelmed. Yesterday was a day I'll never forget."

Girardi said he decided to keep Rodriguez out of Saturday's lineup because the Yankees faced a "quick turnaround" Saturday after playing extra innings on Friday night.

"He's coming off an injury; we're trying to manage it and make sure we keep him on the field for the rest of the year," Girardi said.

After missing most of the season because of hip surgery and a quad strain, Rodriguez returned to the Yankees on Monday in Chicago. The Yankees (58-56) entered Saturday seven games out of the second wild-card spot and could use an offensive boost from Rodriguez.

In the clubhouse, Rodriguez has been accepted by his teammates, but they wondered Friday about a published report that claimed A-Rod had apologized to them for causing a distraction. ESPNNewYork.com and ESPN's Pedro Gomez asked seven senior members of the Yankees about the report, and all said they had not received any sort of contrition from the third baseman.

Rodriguez said Saturday that he has received support from teammates and opponents.

Prior to the game on Friday, the Yankees delivered a letter to Rodriguez in the clubhouse, informing him he would be disciplined for seeking a second opinion with Dr. Michael Gross of Hackensack University Medical Center in late July for a quad injury, sources said.

Rodriguez said Saturday that he had not yet been disciplined by the team. He said his lawyers may have received a letter informing him of potential discipline but declined to comment further on the matter.

Rodriguez added that he and Girardi were on the same page regarding A-Rod's days off.

He said his legs were not conditioned well enough to handle full games and he understood Girardi's decision to remove him from Friday's game for Jayson Nix in the ninth inning for defensive purposes.

"I trust Joe and he's going to do the best for me and for the team," Rodriguez said.