Alex Rodriguez has a fan high up baseball's all-time home run list: Hank Aaron. And he's curious to see how Rodriguez performs after a year's suspension in the Biogenesis investigation.
"I am rooting for him," Aaron, 81, said Monday. "Despite all of the things that people say he had been involved in, I'm rooting for him to come back and have a great year. I am very much anxious to see what he's going to do. I wish him well, but I just don't know. When you're [away] from playing the game the whole year and go out and then have to face kids that are throwing 90 miles an hour, it's a tough thing."
Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July and has two surgically repaired hips, has 654 homers. Aaron was 40 in 1974 when he surpassed Babe Ruth's record of 714 and then hit 40 more homers before retiring at 42.
Barry Bonds (762) surpassed Aaron's total, but recently retired commissioner Bud Selig often has said he considers Aaron the rightful home run king.
"I'm very proud of that," Aaron said. "Bud and I go back a long way. We know each other very well. I really respect him and he respects my ability."
Aaron has steered clear of passing judgment on sluggers suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs. "I've always said this: Records are made to be broken," he said. "And I'm not sitting here saying the reason that a lot of these guys are breaking records are because of steroids. I can't say that because I'm not God. I don't know [if] they've been in steroids, I can't say that. The only thing I can say is I wish them well and that they do the best they can. They have to live and meet their own maker, not me."
Aaron said he would have no problem attending games played by Rodriguez or being on hand if he approached his home run total.
"If I wanted to go to the game and A-Rod was playing, I certainly would go to the game," Aaron said. "I've met A-Rod, and to be honest, between him and me, he's been nothing but a friend to me. I liked him."
Aaron did not attend when Bonds broke his record.
"When he approached my record, somebody wanted to pay me a lot of money to go and sit at the game. I said, 'No, that's crazy. This is Barry Bonds' time for him and his family to enjoy and that's what needs to happen.' "