BOSTON — Fans at Fenway Park again chanted, “We want A-Rod,” and Wednesday night, they got him.
Alex Rodriguez appeared in a game for the first time since he and the Yankees announced that this would be his final week on the team. In the seventh inning, representing the go-ahead run, Rodriguez pinch hit for Aaron Hicks against hard-throwing Boston Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes. Rodriguez was booed heartily the moment he stepped out of the dugout.
On a 2-1 pitch, A-Rod flew out to right field on a 98 mph fastball and moved a runner from second base to third with the first out of the inning. It was Rodriguez’s first at-bat since Aug. 2. His average dropped to .203.
On his way back to the dugout, Red Sox fans gave him the loudest boos of the night. New York won the game 9-4, in part because of a five-run seventh that included Rodriguez’s contribution.
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“I told you: In certain situations, I’m going to use him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
On Sunday, it was announced that A-Rod would play this week in Boston before ending his Yankees career against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday in the Bronx. Girardi said Sunday that he would let A-Rod dictate how much he plays in his final week, but Girardi changed his mind and said he was putting winning over sentimentality.
Before Wednesday’s game, Girardi said it is not in his job description to run “a farewell tour,” and he apologized for his initial comments about Rodriguez’s playing time.
“My job description is to try and win every game and put everyone in the best possible position, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.
Hicks entered Wednesday’s game batting .192.
During Derek Jeter’s farewell tour last season, Girardi consistently batted him second, even though he had the fifth-lowest OPS in the majors in 2014. When the subject was brought up Wednesday, Girardi said he had no better options that season. He added that he should not have said after the Sunday news conference that he would let A-Rod dictate his playing time this week.
“I got caught up in my emotions, and I apologize for that, OK?” Girardi said Wednesday. “I made a mistake. I’m human. But I told you what I was trying to do. And when I was asked the other questions, I’m aware of what my quotes were, that there would be conversations, and I would try to get him in every game. I said that. But what I’m saying is I made a mistake. And I’m admitting that. And I’m admitting that to everyone who’s watching because I have a responsibility and I’m trying to take care of my responsibility.”
Girardi said he thinks his relationship with Rodriguez might have been altered because of how he has taken at-bats from him.
“I think maybe in the long run it won’t, but I think in the short term it’s been difficult,” Girardi said. “I said it yesterday: When you’re the guy that’s telling someone no, you’re usually the guy people vent their anger at, whether you’re the little boy getting your hand slapped by your mom or dad or you’re the player like I was that was cut from the [high school] basketball team and told to go practice baseball. I wasn’t happy about it.
“So yeah, it’s difficult, and that’s why I get partially angry here because I believe people are playing both sides of the fence because it creates news. That doesn’t help our situation. That doesn’t help our clubhouse. It doesn’t help our relationship that we built over so many years. That’s what angers me.”
Asked before Wednesday’s game about his relationship with Girardi, Rodriguez said, “I’m just going to keep it about the game.”
Rodriguez is scheduled to start Thursday at Fenway and Friday in his last game at Yankee Stadium. A-Rod most recently started a game on July 30. He did not make himself available to speak after the game Wednesday.