A-Rod Set to Make Stadium Debut

Alex Rodriguez plays first game at new digs Friday night

When the news of Alex Rodriguez's positive steroid test broke in February, many people wondered what kind of reaction he'd get when he walked to the plate in the Bronx for the first time. This was a player with a complicated relationship with the Yankees fanbase to begin with, but the drug revelations gave reason to believe he could be in for a rough reception.

Hip surgery interceded, however, and pushed that first game back until Friday night. The intervening two and a half months have done a lot to make A-Rod's return more of a sidebar than a lead story. People have had plenty of time to digest the news about his steroid use. Many people are still angry at him, but there's already been a lot of vitriol spilled in other venues. In his season debut at Baltimore, Mark Teixeira heard far more boos than A-Rod and you can't imagine the home crowd would be less welcoming.

That would be true generally, but is especially true in light of the way the Yankees season has gone thus far. They need A-Rod's bat and need it badly, something that even the angriest Yankee fan would have to admit. They might not like that their savior comes with as much baggage as Rodriguez, but most of them are probably smacking their lips at the prospect of seeing him hit balls in a stadium that's been quite easy on home run hitters.

Toss in Manny Ramirez's suspension, and there are no shortage of ways that air has been taken out of the balloon that would have greeted A-Rod in April.

It's almost more interesting to see how the Stadium crowd responds to Mark Teixeira at this point. If he makes an out in the first inning, or strikes out with runners on in the sixth there's a good chance that audible grumbling will come from wherever there are actually people sitting in the crowd.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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