MIAMI - Alex Rodriguez pointed to an adjoining baseball field.
"When I was nine years old, on that field," A-Rod said late Tuesday morning to a group of about 50 young kids, "I learned how to throw a baseball."
This has been a two-day homecoming for the Yankees' 39-year-old designated hitter, a native of Miami, and Tuesday he returned where, he said, "it all started."
Which is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade Hank Kline Club, where A-Rod's baseball career officially began and where he will still randomly pop by during the offseason to take grounders.
"This is a very, very special place to me, this is home away from home," Rodriguez said after assisting with a baseball clinic. "To play under the lights here for me was the equivalent of playing at Yankee Stadium."
Rodriguez moved comfortably among the kids, interacting with them and a handful of adults, which included unit director Eddie Rodriguez, who has been at the club nearly 40 years, and Alex Rodriguez-Roig (none of the men are related), president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami.
Here, the past is the past. There are no judgments on A-Rod's well-documented public missteps.
"Alex has been an amazing partner with us and he's going to continue to help us and be a part of it," Rodriguez-Roig said. :"There's 8,000 kids that come to the Boys and Girls club and our goal is to serve 10,000, 12,000, 14,000 and keep growing."
A-Rod, speaking with the Alex Rodriguez Educational Center looming behind him, said the money he's donated to build those kind of facilities is well and good, but there's more to it than that.
"I've always said, one thing is to write checks, the other thing is to walk the walk and to be here and give them hope," he said. "I always talk to them, try to coach them. For me, that's as important as writing checks."
Rodriguez pinch hit with two outs in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 2-1 loss to the Marlins on Monday night and was greeted by a thunderous ovation by much of the crowd of 33,961.
"I said to guys [reporters] in New York earlier this season, I thought the days of the standing ovations were long gone for me," he said Tuesday. "Everyone knows about the trials and tribulations that I've dealt with but [Monday] night was as good as it gets. It was quite a homecoming."