TAMPA, Fla. - Day 2 of Alex Rodriguez's image rehab went smoothly over at the Yankees' minor-league complex. Another workout, another round of signing autographs and posing for photos on the sidewalk.
But after saying he's no longer using performance-enhancing drugs, what does the future hold for a "clean" A-Rod? That's a question not even he could answer during another afternoon briefing with reporters in the facility's driveway.
The physical impact of PEDs can be obvious. The psychological benefit, from a confidence standpoint, is harder to calculate, and A-Rod was asked Tuesday if he was worried about the mental effect of no longer using. "I think I'll be fine," he said. "Only time will tell."
He spent the morning fielding grounders beside his replacement at third base, Chase Headley, then took batting practice. In 35 swings, A-Rod smacked three pitches over the fence, including a high-arcing shot over the batter's eye in centerfield. Two more caromed high off that blacked-out screen, those shots an estimated 425 and 450 feet.
Onlookers scrambled for the baseballs, and one fan brought his prize to A-Rod to autograph later during the sidewalk session. Drivers on Himes Avenue rolled down their windows and yelled words of support.
A-Rod's damaged relationship with the Yankees will take longer to repair. The team's first full-squad workout at Steinbrenner Field is Thursday, which will be his true indoctrination back into pinstripes.
That's when he officially is under Joe Girardi's watch. The manager, who has publicly denounced Rodriguez's transgressions, was evasive when asked if he now looked at him differently since his one-year suspension.
"I don't know," Girardi said. "My personal feelings are my personal feelings and I don't think that's something you discuss. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get the most out of him."
Part of that will be limited reps at third base in spring training and some work at first base, where Girardi hopes to have Rodriguez as a potential backup for Mark Teixeira.
Rodriguez said he'll do whatever Girardi asks, and that's likely to mean more than a few bus rides to hostile Grapefruit League stops to see plenty of game-quality pitching. In Girardi's mind, harsh receptions shouldn't be an issue. "It won't be the first time he's dealt with it," he said.
Rodriguez has kept his personal sideshow away from Steinbrenner Field, as position players are relegated to working out across the street until Thursday. In the first two sessions, there's been no discernible difference in him, only because routine grounders and BP can't reveal much at this stage. Everyone needs time -- Rodriguez included -- to figure out if he can still play.
"It is going to be a process," he said. "For me, the most important thing is to be patient. It's going to take three or four weeks to get a good read on everything. Patience is key for me."
But will the Yankees also avoid a rush to judgment?
"I don't know," he said. "Those questions you have to ask them. I just know that I'm here early. I really am working hard to make the team. And if I make the team, I hope to be a productive righthanded hitter."
Showing up a few days ahead of schedule for his sidewalk mea culpa and additional swings was a smart move by Rodriguez, even if it may have surprised the Yankees.
"When you're guilty of something and you pay your consequences, then we have to move on," Girardi said. "From a physical standpoint, is he going to be different? Maybe . . . He's a couple years older. There are things I have to be aware of. But I don't think my job description really changes."