Alex Rodriguez was booed and taunted with shouts of “Cheater” on Wednesday in a Major League Baseball pre-season opener, his first game since admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs.
New York Yankees third baseman Rodriguez belted a home run off Toronto’s Ricky Romero in the fourth inning to draw a standing ovation from Yankees fans among a crowd of 5,014 in the tuneup game for April’s start of the season.
Earlier this month, Rodriguez admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001 through 2003, saying the tension of being baseball’s highest-paid player prompted him to doping.
Rodriguez was greeted with a loud chorus of boos in the first inning in his first time at the plate, which resulted in a walk.
“I thought the fans were OK,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t nervous. It was just a spring training game. I was just excited to go out and do what I do best and that’s play baseball.”
Rodriguez returned to bat in the fourth and smashed a two-run homer over the fence in left-centerfield to the delight of Yankee fans. “A-Rod” was walked again in the fifth inning before being replaced later in the inning, ending his role in the Yankees’ 6-1 victory.
Rodriguez claims only he and his cousin, Yuri Sucart, knew about his doping regimen, which included his cousin injecting him with a substance purchased in the Dominican Republic.
Fans also taunted Rodriguez with chants of “Where’s Yuri?”
Rodriguez is set to meet with Major League Baseball investigators this week to discuss his use of steroids.
Rodriguez plans to play in four Yankee exhibition games before joining the Dominican Republic squad for next week’s start of the World Baseball Classic, a 16-team event featuring elite talent playing for their home nations.