Yankees bat Alex Rodriguez fourth in 2013 debut

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Is this the Yankees’ way of telling Alex Rodriguez to put up or shut up? They have their 38-year-old former MVP batting cleanup Monday against the White Sox in his 2013 debut.

It’s A-Rod’s first start for the Yankees since Game 2 of last year’s ALCS against the Tigers. Playing on a bad hip that required surgery, Rodriguez hit sixth behind Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin in that one. He wound up finishing 1-for-4 and then took a seat for Games 3 and 4 in the Tigers’ sweep, though he did go 0-for-2 off the bench in Game 4.

If Rodriguez were returning in a more traditional fashion tonight, he may well have started off hitting fifth or sixth. His .214/.333/.452 line in 42 minor league at-bats during his rehab assignment doesn’t exactly scream cleanup hitter.

Rodriguez, though, tried to dictate the pace of his own returning, putting himself at odds with the Yankees more than once. He says he’s ready, so now the team expects to prove it.

With A-Rod batting fourth, Alfonso Soriano has moved up to second in the order versus left-hander Jose Quintana. Vernon Wells is batting fifth and making his first career start at first base, not that anyone will notice.