A-Rod opens with bang

Back on the field, Alex Rodriguez was able to put aside the steroid scandal.

At least for a little while.


Booed and taunted by opposing fans in the New York Yankees' spring training opener, Rodriguez homered and drew two walks yesterday in a 6-1 exhibition victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., that was anything but routine.

Rodriguez then got into a sport utility vehicle that, according to the New York Post's Web site, was driven by Yuri Sucart - the person identified as the cousin who provided Rodriguez with performance-enhancing drugs.


It was Rodriguez's first game since admitting he took banned drugs from 2001 to 2003 with the Texas Rangers. He left after drawing a walk in the fifth inning and signed autographs for five minutes before calling it a day.

"This is what I do. I know how to play baseball," Rodriguez said. "I just hope that's the start of something really special for this year. I feel really good about our team."

There were lots of cheers for the three-time American League Most Valuable Player, a smattering of boos and occasional catcalls from the announced crowd of 5,014 at Dunedin Stadium.

Nationals:: Washington is considering firing general manager Jim Bowden in the wake of an age-changing scandal involving one of the team's top prospects, people familiar with the situation told Bowden pressed his bosses to sign prospect Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic, and it was announced last week that Gonzalez lied about his age and name. Sources told that the team will fire special assistant Jose Rijo and will shut down the team's academy in the Dominican Republic as part of a restructuring of operations in Latin America.

Dodgers: : Los Angeles made a new offer to free-agent left fielder Manny Ramirez - two years worth $45 million with the right to become a free agent after the first season, several news outlets reported. Ramirez would earn $25 million in 2009 and $20 million in 2010 if he exercises his player option.

Astros:: Former Oriole Miguel Tejada will not play for the Dominican Republic in next month's World Baseball Classic. Tejada and Houston manager Cecil Cooper said the Dominican team's request that the shortstop play first base was a major factor in the decision.

Twins:: Right-hander Boof Bonser is expected to miss the season after arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder detected partial tears in his labrum and rotator cuff. Bonser, 27, was 3-7 with a 5.93 ERA in 118 1/3 innings in 2008.

Mariners: : Third baseman Adrian Beltre wants a few more days to test his surgically repaired shoulder and to decide whether to defy Seattle and play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Seattle fears Beltre is not fully recovered from operations to repair a ligament in his left thumb and to remove bone spurs from his left, nonthrowing shoulder.