Alex Rodriguez made his 2013 Yankees debut against the White Sox in Chicago on Monday night, even after Major League Baseball slapped him with a suspension.
In an afternoon press conference hours before walking onto U.S. Cellular Field, A-Rod said he's fighting for his life and will appeal allegations that he used testosterone and human growth hormone and then tried to cover it up.
"The last seven months has been a nightmare, has been probably the worst time of my life for sure," Rodriguez said.
That pain was evident as the slugger took a deep breath before spending time signing autographs for fans.
Throngs of other baseball-lovers jeered him during warms and introductions, and they really tore into him when he walked to the batter's box off the second inning.
Rodriguez hasn't played with the Yankees since an off-season hip injury. After his last game in the minor leagues on Saturday, Rodriguez told the media he will tell his family and perhaps the world the whole story at some point. Until then he plans to play.
"I can't wait to see my teammates," he said. "I feel like I can help us win and help us be a better team. I haven't seen a lot of my brothers in a long time."
The MLB suspended a dozen players accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. Most players got 50-game suspensions, but A-Rod was suspended through the entire 2014 season because he allegedly interfered with the investigation.
Earlier in the day, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he penciled in Rodriguez to play third base in Chicago.
"He's in there, and I'm going to play him," Girardi said. "That's the way the situation is. That said, you'll probably hear about everything before I will."
Rodriguez has until Thursday to file his appeal.