We want to love A-Rod here at Low&Outside. We really do. And we're trying. So when Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez "surprised" about 50 fans before the game Tuesday as they wandered around Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, we wanted to believe him when he told Newsday, "It was nice to be a part of their day and their memorable moment, but it was also nice for me to get to know some of our fans."

If only the meeting had been A-Rod's idea or a spur-of-the-moment gesture. That would have shown that A-Rod himself - the man, the player, the human being - does care about those who pay some of his salary. And he may.

But it's hard to really believe it when Newsday also reported that the Yankees, for a month now, have been planning meet-and-greets with their fans to improve community relations and that A-Rod was on board to participate.

His idea? We love A-Rod. Management's PR ploy? He's just another spoiled star trying to look good. You make the call.

No Angels in the outfield

Bobby Abreu, the former Phillie and now the rightfielder for the Angels, sat out yesterday's game in San Francisco because of a sore neck. Also missing from the L.A. starting lineup were centerfielder Torii Hunter (sore ribs) and designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero (pulled pectoral muscle).

So, what happened? The Angels won, 4-3, thanks to pinch-hit singles in the eighth inning by - you guessed it - Hunter and Guerrero.

Here's how Mike Scioscia, the manager of the Angels, described his bench of all-stars: "It's like, 'What do you want for dinner? You want linguine with red clam sauce, or white clam? They're both good.' "


Former outfielder Mel Hall, whose 13-year major-league career included stints with the Cubs, Indians, Yankees and Giants, was sentenced to 45 years in prison in Fort Worth, Texas, after being convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl he coached on an elite basketball team. Hall, 48, must serve about 221/2 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. . . . Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay will be placed on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained right groin. Lefthander Scott Downs will join Halladay on the DL with a sprained big left toe. . . . Seattle lefthander Erik Bedard went on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation. . . . Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, the manager of the American League all-star team, selected Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman and Seattle Mariners skipper Don Wakamatsu to join him on the bench for the July 14 All-Star Game in St. Louis. . . . Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was out of the starting lineup one day after he left in a win over the Nationals because of a sore left ankle. . . . Texas lefthander Matt Harrison went from the disabled list to the pitcher's mound. The Rangers activated Harrison from the 15-day DL in time to start last night against the Astros. . . . John Smoltz finished his last scheduled rehabilitation outing before joining the Red Sox, allowing one run in four innings for triple-A Pawtucket. The 42-year-old righthander is scheduled to make his first start for Boston next Thursday at Washington.