TAMPA, Fla. - Wearing a white polo shirt with an interlocking "NY'' over his heart, Alex Rodriguez said Tuesday night that he is looking forward to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium and playing in front of "the smartest and best fans in all of baseball.''
Speaking on YES Network after going 0-for-3 in the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays, Rodriguez said: "It's definitely going to be very emotional. It's been a long time.''
He hasn't played in the Bronx since Sept. 25, 2013. How fans receive him will be one of the story lines April 6 when the Yankees open against the Blue Jays.
Also scheduled to open on April 6: the criminal trial of Rodriguez's cousin Yuri Sucart in the Biogenesis case. Rodriguez is on notice that he may be called as a witness in the case.
But that wasn't a topic Tuesday night. A-Rod's bouquet to the fans on the team-owned network probably didn't hurt his standing with die-hard Yankees fans.
"The whole thing has been very humbling,'' said Rodriguez, who played six innings at third base and is batting .300. "My teammates have been great. It's just been great. Joe [Girardi] has given me so much support and I'm really just enjoying every moment again like I'm a rookie back in Seattle.''
Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from the lineup and will miss at least two days with what Girardi called a "mild, mild, mild, mild'' right abdominal strain.
Girardi initially said Ellsbury had a quad strain before correcting himself. Either way, the centerfielder saw the team doctor Tuesday after feeling something while coughing and was told to take a few days off. No MRI was deemed necessary.
Ellsbury had a calf strain at about the same point last year but was ready for Opening Day.
Mark Teixeira hit his first home run in the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays . . . Brendan Ryan (back) was cleared to take batting practice.