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A-Rod silences taunters with homer on first swing

BALTIMORE – Alex Rodriguez walked to the plate, and a dozen fans behind the screen swung into action. Holding up giant, foam syringes, they started with the taunts.

Rodriguez answered them, all right. Back in the big leagues, the Yankees star launched the first pitch he saw deep into the left-field seats for a three-run homer Friday night.

“One swing, and the rest was easy,” Rodriguez said.

That might have hushed his tormentors – for a moment. But baseball figures to face a much tougher time silencing the boos, jeers and doubts stirred up by Manny Ramirez and sport’s latest scandal from the Steroids Era.

A day after the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger was suspended 50 games for using a banned drug, A-Rod returned to the scene.

Off the disabled list from hip surgery, he played in the majors for the first time since admitting in February that he used steroids when he was a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.

As he walked on the grass before the game, a fitting song played over the sound system at Camden Yards: “Circus,” by Britney Spears.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career. They’ve been well-documented. I’ve paid the price,” Rodriguez said before New York’s 4-0 win over Baltimore.

The rocky relay from Ramirez to Rodriguez made for yet another stain on the sport and left the pair, sharing huge salaries and megatalent, chasing the same impossible dream: To just play ball.

Yet like their many home runs, their errors off the field will stay on the board. And no doubt, as Rodriguez circled the bases to a mix of cheers and boos with his 554th home run, many fans wondered how many of them should really count because of performance enhancers.

“It’s heat on baseball. It’s horrible for baseball,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. “Now you look at all the superstars who got busted – or allegedly. This era is definitely tarnished.”

Ramirez, meanwhile, remained in seclusion, a day after the Dodgers played for the first time without their dreadlocked star and saw their record home winning streak come to an end.

Although fans and players had plenty to say, Ramirez offered little explanation, simply apologizing for “the whole situation” and leaving Dodgers manager Joe Torre to plead his star’s case, saying Ramirez felt he was a disappointment.

Rodriguez never said the word “steroids” during a pregame news conference. He also said he would not answer any questions related to the newly released book about him by Selena Roberts.

Pressed as to whether he used performance-enhancing drugs in high school, as the book suggests, he said, “The answer is no.”

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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