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Rodriguez's Ranger Debut Is a Real Trip

Opening day: Shortstop falls twice and commits throwing error in 8-1 loss to Toronto in Puerto Rico.

April 02, 2001|From Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — After all the off-season hype, Alex Rodriguez put on quite a show in his debut with the Texas Rangers.

But it wasn't all good.

The $252-million shortstop made a throwing error on his first fielding chance of the season and tripped to the turf twice as the Rangers lost, 8-1, to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday in the major league opener in Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez's best moments came without his glove as he got the season's first hit and scored the first run. He also had another hit in his second at-bat, but then struck out looking and popped out.

"You have to start somewhere," said Rodriguez, whose record-shattering deal averages $129,630 per game this season. "There was a little bit of everything: an error, a slip, hits. But it's only one game. There's 161 more. You just move on."

The Blue Jays' Shannon Stewart went three for four with a solo home run and a run-scoring double. Tony Batista hit a two-run homer.

Esteban Loaiza (1-0) rewarded rookie Manager Buck Martinez for making him the opening-day starter by throwing six shutout innings after giving up Rafael Palmeiro's run-scoring double in the first.

Loaiza, who has a 49-52 record and lost rotation spots in Pittsburgh and Texas, gave up eight hits in seven innings. He struck out nine, the most by a Blue Jays pitcher on opening day.

"I was throwing all my pitches for strikes," he said. "I had a couple of strikeouts in big situations."

After the last out, Loaiza and Billy Koch presented Martinez with the game ball, which he in turn gave to his wife, along with the lineup card.

"I feel like I'm back where I belong, on a baseball field," said Martinez, a broadcaster since retiring from the Blue Jays in 1986.

Rick Helling (0-1) gave up four runs and six hits in six innings.

The crowd of 19,891 was treated to nearly an hourlong pregame show that included music, dancing, costumed figures, three national anthems and the unveiling of signs honoring Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, the only Puerto Ricans in the Hall of Fame.

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