Rodriguez savors final trip to Fenway Park

Rodriguez savors final trip to Fenway Park

BOSTON -- As of Thursday afternoon, Alex Rodriguez had never been inside the Green Monster at Fenway Park. And so before what may have been his final game at the historic ballpark, he went to check it out.

"First time ever," Rodriguez said after the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Red Sox, adding that he asked the Green Monster operators if he could pose for a photo with No. 13. "It will be pretty good for my Instagram account."

Batting cleanup as the Yankees' designated hitter, Rodriguez didn't exactly look like a guy with 696 career home runs. He went 0-for-4, managing a swinging bunt in the eighth inning with the bases loaded that brought home an insurance run, his first RBI since July 18.

But as the boos rained down from the Fenway faithful, A-Rod seemed to be soaking in the moment. He signed pregame autographs along the third-base line. In the first inning, he told a young Yankees fan that he would give the fan his bat if he either hit a home run, got two hits or if the Yankees won.

"I said, 'I have a good feeling about that,'" Rodriguez said of the last option. "He was screaming at me encouraging words, like, 'Come on, keep your shoulder in there.'"

During his at-bats, A-Rod said, he was imagining past showdowns against Red Sox foes such as Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke and Derek Lowe.

"Which was pretty distracting," A-Rod said. "That just kept coming to me."

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After a career for Rodriguez surrounded by controversy -- the epicenter of which was Fenway Park, where the fans greeted him accordingly -- baseball fans could be forgiven for questioning Rodriguez's sincerity.

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But A-Rod sure loves baseball, and he makes that fact known.

"The memories are enough," Rodriguez said when asked if he is hoping for a proper sendoff during Friday's game at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks will hold a pregame ceremony to recognize Rodriguez at 6:50 p.m. ET. First pitch has been pushed back to 7:35 p.m.

A-Rod brought up the Yankees' 2009 World Series victory.

"As a fan, I just love, love those times," said Rodriguez.

With one game left, Rodriguez's mini-farewell tour has been marked more by confusion about playing time than by any vintage A-Rod moments on the field. He looked rusty in five at-bats Wednesday and Thursday, not surprising given that he has had just 44 at-bats since the start of July.

On Friday, he will have another shot.

A-Rod's Fenway finale with Yanks

"He's gonna play tomorrow," manager Joe Girardi said. "I mean, that's the bottom line. Hopefully tomorrow he hits a three-run homer."

Whether it will be his last shot with any team remains to be seen. Rodriguez has agreed to become a special instructor with the Yankees after Friday, but the 41-year-old has yet to utter the word "retire."

One reporter asked if he thinks he will play at Fenway Park again.

"As a player?" Rodriguez said before pausing. "I haven't even thought about that."

Aaron Leibowitz is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston and covered the Yankees on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.