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updated: 8/5/2013 11:32 PM

White Sox fans get to witness A-Rod's return

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  • Fans express their feelings towards New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez at Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday.

      Fans express their feelings towards New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez at Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez bats during the first inning at Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday as fans express their feelings toward him.

      New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez bats during the first inning at Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday as fans express their feelings toward him.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

If misery indeed loves company, the White Sox should have welcomed Alex Rodriguez to U.S. Cellular Field with open arms Monday.

They didn't, which says a lot about how far the former superstar has plunged.

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"You've seen this team play recently. I've got 99 problems, and A-Rod ain't one of them," said Sox general manager Rick Hahn, with a little help from rapper Jay-Z.

"Watching this club over the last months and where we are at, my focus is elsewhere. It's not really on A-Rod right now."

For the first time this season, Rodriguez was in the Yankees' starting lineup Monday night against the White Sox, who defeated New York 8-1 to snap a 10-game losing streak.

How long the tarnished slugger remains there is the big question.

Earlier Monday, Major League Baseball had suspended 13 players for being connected to Biogenesis, a Florida "anti-aging" clinic that is linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

Twelve of them received 50-game suspensions and immediately began serving their sentences.

As for Rodriguez, he was suspended for 211 games effective Thursday -- which would sideline him with no pay through the end of the 2014 season. But the Yankees' 38-year-old third baseman has vowed to fight the punishment.

"I'm fighting for my life," Rodriguez said. "I have to defend myself. If I don't defend myself, no one else will."

MLB suspended Rodriguez for "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years."

The extra time was tacked on for "engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate" an investigation by the office of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

Rodriguez wasn't interested in discussing details during a 12-minute media session late Monday afternoon in a conference center at the Cell.

"I'm not going to get into any of that today," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, it was disappointing, the news today, no question about it. I think we will have a forum to discuss all of that, and we will talk about that."

Good luck with that, and good luck dealing with fed-up fans at the Cell, Yankee Stadium and other major-league venues.

Even though he tried generating some good will by signing autographs before Monday's game, Rodriguez was loudly booed when he came to the on-deck circle before his first at-bat, in the second inning.

The boos continued when he got to the batter's box, but many of the Yankees fans in the crowd of 27,948 switched to cheers when Rodriguez led off the second with a bloop single to left field.

The boos returned the rest of game when Rodriguez hit or made a defensive play. He finished 1-for-4 at the plate.

Ironically, Rodriguez's second-inning hit came off Sox starter Jose Quintana, who served a 50-game suspension in 2007 for violating minor-league baseball's drug-prevention program while pitching in the Mets' system.

And -- fittingly -- Quintana's mound opponent was Andy Pettitte, who admitted using human growth hormone in 2002 and '04 to help recover from injuries.

All in all, feel free to call Monday night's White Sox-Yankees matchup the "Shame Game."

Adam Dunn, for one, is getting tired of players such as A-Rod and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun (suspended 65 games on July 22) shedding a dark light on the sport.

"Before all this, (Rodriguez) was one of the greatest players of all time," Dunn said. "It's sad. It's sad that someone like him, or Ryan Braun, who probably were going to be really, really great players without it, that's the sad part for me. They didn't need all this."

And Major League Baseball doesn't need all of the bad publicity, but Monday provided another heaping dose.

"Yeah, it's not good," Gordon Beckham said. "I think this is a good step in the right direction, and I think people are starting to understand that obviously it hurts a lot of players by other players doing the things they're getting suspended for. It's a lot of negative attention and hopefully this is one of the last times it happens. It's never going to ever go away completely. In any sport, you don't want this, but people are going to try to gain an edge."

Most agree the tougher drug testing is starting to pay off.

"It's unfortunate, but it's been a part of the game for a while and they're just doing a better job now of finding ways to catch guys," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

"I think it's shifted from before. There was not a lot people could do about it. Now, it has changed for the better. It's just better for everyone."

•Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter@scotgregor, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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