A-Rod ready for hostile reception

Updated: February 25, 2009, 11:14 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez is prepared for the worst when he plays in the New York Yankees' spring training opener Wednesday.

The game against Toronto at Dunedin will be his first since admitting that he used a banned substance while playing for Texas from 2001 to '03. He's used to playing before hostile fans.

"I've had good practice the last eight years," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "No expectations. Hopefully I get three good at-bats and get some good running in."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn't sure how Rodriguez will be received.

"It will be curious, I'm sure," Girardi said. "I'm sure there's going to be some people that are upset. I'm sure there's going to be some people that support him, and there's going to be some people in between. For Alex, again, he's going to have to block out distractions and be able to play. I expect him to be able to do that, but we're going to have to see how it goes."

Rodriguez is also scheduled to play in the Yankees' spring training home opener Thursday against Tampa Bay.

"I think it's an initial step on how he's going to handle it," Girardi said. "Alex is, obviously, a very popular player. Other times in road cities, he's not so popular. He all have to get through that."

Rodriguez expects to meet soon with investigators from Major League Baseball, which wants to speak with him before he joins the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic. The Dominicans start workouts Monday.

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"I'm just waiting to hear from somebody," Rodriguez said.

Newsday, citing a person familiar with the situation, reported on Tuesday that MLB investigators intend to meet with A-Rod between Wednesday and Friday. Officials want to meet with Rodriguez before he leaves the Yankees' spring training camp to work out with the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic squad in Jupiter, Fla.

According to the report, A-Rod will likely bring two lawyers with him -- personal attorney Jay Reisinger, who has represented Andy Pettitte and Sammy Sosa, and a lawyer from the players' union. The only questions he will be compelled to answer are whether he procured performance-enhancing drugs on MLB grounds, such as the clubhouse or the team plane.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, who didn't run the previous two days because of right hamstring soreness, planned to play Wednesday. The Yankees' captain took part in all drills Tuesday, including sprints in the outfield and baserunning.

"He said it was a non-issue today," Girardi said. "I'll check with him and see how he feels."

Jeter said he plans to play in four games before joining the United States' WBC squad next week.

Brett Tomko will start Wednesday's game. Other pitchers scheduled to pitch include Kei Igawa and Jose Veras.

Reliever Edwar Ramirez is not expected to throw for four or five days after an MRI exam Monday found mild bursitis in his right shoulder. He ended his bullpen session on Sunday early due to discomfort in the shoulder.

"It's nothing bad," said Ramirez, who might throw on flat ground this weekend.

Notes

Spring training instructors Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson arrived in camp. ... LHP CC Sabathia and RHP Chien-Ming Wang both had 14-minute bullpen sessions. Sabathia is scheduled to make his first exhibition start on March 6. Wang could make his initial appearance early next week. ... A guitar owned by OF Nick Swisher was delivered to the clubhouse. Bernie Williams, who has recorded a jazz CD, said he would bring his guitar with him Wednesday and have a jam session with Swisher. Williams, the former Yankees CF, is working out with the team before playing with Puerto Rico in the WBC. ... C Jorge Posada (shoulder surgery) will DH Thursday. The Yankees don't expect him behind the plate until mid-March.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.