Alex Rodriguez didn't set the bar very high for himself before his first baseball game in nearly nine months.
"I've got to be realistic with myself," the injured New York Yankees third baseman said before the first game of his rehab assignment with the Charleston Riverdogs. "I'm almost 38, not 28. It's been a long time since I've done anything.''
The rust showed from the start of his three-inning appearance Tuesday night. He couldn't make the play at third on a bunt on the first pitch of the game. He also grounded into a double play and struck out looking in his first two at-bats since hip surgery in January.
Still, Rodriguez seemed anything but frustrated after the game.
“For me, it's just a great blessing to be back out there,” he said. “It's been a long fight, a hard climb and I was just pretty excited to get a couple of at-bats and get in the mix.”
Rodriguez, who turns 38 at the end of this month, has plenty of motivation to make this comeback a success. The last time he was one the field, during the 2012 playoffs, was a disaster.
"Look, let's be honest," Rodriguez said, "the way the year ended last year was pretty bloody. We got swept. I got benched. I got pinch-hit for. And I got nobody to blame but myself because I stunk up the house, that's for sure."
He added: "You think about that for eight or nine months. That's enough to fuel you to come back, and hopefully be a player that can help a team, and be an impact in the middle of the lineup. We're all intrigued to see how my body is going to react, and see if there's a big difference from the way I ended last year, to how I'm going to play this year."