Yanks’ Rodriguez hits 1st homer this season

NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez homered for the first time since he returned last week from offseason hip surgery and being suspended 211 games for performance-enhancing drug use.

Starting at third base and batting fourth a day after being held out of the lineup, A-Rod connected on Justin Verlander’s second pitch of the second inning Sunday for his 648th career homer. It was the New York Yankees third baseman’s 16th at-bat this season and first long ball since Sept. 14.

Rodriguez is playing while he appeals the ban Major League Baseball handed out as a result of its investigation into the now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic.

The hit was his first off a right-hander in 25 at-bats. Rodriguez was 0 for 18 against righties during a dreadful postseason.

The three-time AL MVP was given a mixed reception when he came to the plate leading off the second. He sent a soaring fly that landed several rows back in left field and rounded the bases to a loud ovation.

The RBI was the 1,951st of Rodriguez’s career, moving him past Stan Musial for fifth all-time. Rodriguez drove in a second run with a single down the first base line in the third. A-Rod stood in the batter’s box, thinking the ball was foul, before jogging to first base.

He also made three nice plays in the field, one to start a double play, and was given an error on Victor Martinez’s slow roller that Rodriguez ran in for but couldn’t scoop with his glove.

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