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A-Rod Booed, Homers In Spring Training

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez rounds second base after hitting a two-run, fourth-inning homer off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero in the first game of the spring training baseball season in Dunedin, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Alex Rodriguez was booed, then homered in his first game since admitting he used a banned substance.

The New York Yankees slugger started the spring training season with a two-run homer and two walks Wednesday at the Toronto Blue Jays' ballpark. The third baseman left the exhibition opener in the fifth inning.

There were a lot of cheers, a smattering of boos and occasional cat calls from hecklers. Earlier this month, Rodriguez said he used the banned substances from 2001-03 while with the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez walked on five pitches in the first inning. Many in the crowd at mostly filled Dunedin Stadium stood and cheered as he circled the bases after homering off Ricky Romero in the fourth.

A-Rod, who had said he was prepared for whatever reception he received from fans, high-fived teammate Robinson Cano as he crossed the plate. After walking on four pitches in the fifth, he was replaced defensively between innings.

According to a recent CBS News/New York Times survey, Rodriguez is viewed negatively by more than 4 in 10 baseball fans.

Just 17 percent of fans surveyed hold favorable views of Rodriguez. Another 27 percent are undecided, while 10 percent say they haven't heard enough to make a determination.


Full CBS Poll On Steroids
Earlier, manager Joe Girardi said he planned to talk to Rodriguez during the short bus ride from Tampa to Dunedin, where Yankees fans arrived early and gave A-Rod a polite reception. There were some boos mixed with cheers during pregame introductions and again when he strolled to the plate for the first time.

"I'll say a few things before the game. Nothing earth-shattering. He's been through hostile environments before. ... So this will probably seem somewhat par for the course," Girardi said. "It's still different overtime you go through a new situation. Whether he's experienced a similar situation, it's still a little bit different. It's something he's going to have to work his way through, and we'll be there for him every step of the way."