Absent A-Rod still has All-Star fans

NEW YORK -- Around the time Monday night's Home Run Derby was just getting started, the news arrived from Reading, Pa.

Alex Rodriguez hit a home run.

Can't get away from him, can we? You know baseball is thrilled that he's not at Citi Field this week. You know plenty of fans will tell you they never want to hear his name again (although a whole bunch of them seem to click on any story about him).

But absent from the All-Star Game or not, A-Rod isn't just going away. He's playing in minor-league games (and he did homer Monday night for the Double-A Trenton Thunder), and he's still on the minds of plenty of All-Stars. Not in a bad way, either.

"I have a signed jersey of his hanging on the wall in my house," Adam Jones said Monday.

Jones is a center fielder with the Orioles, but he was a shortstop as a kid growing up in San Diego. He was a big shortstop, and just like every other big shortstop growing up in the late 1990s, he was an A-Rod fan.

Just like Troy Tulowitzki.

Tulowitzki had a A-Rod poster on his bedroom wall as a kid. Tulowitzki remains an A-Rod fan.

"A lot of guys in this room looked up to him," the Rockies shortstop said, referring to the All-Stars gathered at Citi Field. "Everyone wants to attack him. At the end of the day, he's a great player."

Jones was one of those guys looking up to him, one of the guys still looking up to him.

"I respect what he has done on the field more than you can imagine," Jones said.

Rodriguez has done plenty to destroy his reputation among fans. He's done plenty to make the Yankees hate him, plenty to make the top brass at MLB hate him.

It turns out there are still plenty of players -- All-Star players -- who don't.

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