Everyone, Alex Rodriguez would like you to know that he’s sorry.

Not that it matters for most, of course. After all he’s been through, the vast majority of baseball fans are likely permanently against the New York Yankees veteran slugger. Instead of winning back the everyfan, really his only hope of redemption is to at least win back Yankees fans.

And that’s going to take more effort than simply issuing a public mea culpa.

But if you haven’t heard, A-Rod has indeed issued one of those on the eve of his first spring training after his season-long suspension stemming from MLB‘s Biogenesis investigation. You can read the handwritten version at MLB.com, but here’s a more digestible version courtesy of ESPN:

He’s guessing that some are going to look at this apology and feel underwhelmed by it.

No doubt one of the main complaints will be about the lack of extensive self-flagellation. Another is surely to be that A-Rod is making a big mistake by not taking the Yankees up on their offer to use Yankee Stadium as a forum for a much grander apology.

The more reasonable among us, however, will understand that Rodriguez hit all the right notes.

Exactly what A-Rod told the Yankees in a private apology session last week is unclear, but one thing he absolutely needed to do in his inevitable public apology was acknowledge he had nobody to blame but himself for his 2014 suspension. He did that right off the bat, effectively admitting that he did indeed acquire and use performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis director Anthony Bosch. No excuses.

After that, you’re reading the words of a man who’s fully aware that mere words are only going to go so far in his situation.

It appears A-Rod knows what ESPN.com’s Buster Olney knows: that his history with using, subsequently denying and eventually apologizing for using PEDs is going to make it nigh impossible for many to take him seriously, much less forgive him. So why even bother with additional words? Why not simply put on a uniform again and go from there?

Why not, indeed. For while A-Rod has little to no hope of ever winning fans back with words alone, the thought of him winning Yankees fans back with his play is hardly preposterous. It can be done.

Not that it will be easy, mind you.

One thing that will make A-Rod’s road to redemption with Yankees fans that much more difficult is that he’s probably not going to find himself in the same boat as Ryan Braun at the outset of 2014.

Whereas the Milwaukee Brewers star received a warm reception from fans at Miller Park in his first game back after his season-ending Biogenesis suspension in 2013, Rodriguez is likely to begin 2015 from a much lower starting point.

Remember how he was received by Yankees fans the last time he returned from a lengthy, controversy-riddled absence to play in front of them? That was in early August of 2013, and The Associated Press recounted the scene as so:

Alex Rodriguez got booed in pregame introductions, booed when his picture was put up on the video board and booed again when came to bat in the first inning.

And when he struck out? Booed even more. Loudly, too.

Same thing when he fanned the next time up.

The crowd at Yankee Stadium had its say Friday night when Rodriguez played at home for the first time since last October. While some people stood to cheer, jeers mostly echoed around the ballpark.

To venture a guess, Rodriguez’s first appearance at Yankee Stadium in 2015 likely isn’t going to be any better, if not altogether worse. Even some of his most loyal fans may have been turned by the events of the last year, and those who were against him in 2013 are probably still against him now.

And probably not just because A-Rod spent the last year being punished for being involved with PEDs.

There was already a palpable sense of resentment at the fact that A-Rod was a very expensive, broken-down shell of his former self. Nowadays, he’s an expensive—he’s owed $22 million in 2015broken-down shell of his former self who’s been relegated to designated hitter duty. In him, the Yankees are poised to spend an awful lot of money on a one-dimensional player.

Even worse is how Rodriguez’s recent history doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to settle in next to Victor Martinez, David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz among the American League‘s top DHs. A-Rod is only a .269 hitter with a .796 OPS since 2011 and was last seen hitting .244 with a .771 OPS in 2013.

Given that, his age and his recent hiatus, it’s no wonder his general manager isn’t expecting much.

“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Brian Cashman told the AP in December. “I’ve got to think the worst and hope for the best. Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side. And that was before the suspension.”

As if to prove Cashman’s point, neither the ZiPS or Steamer projections found at FanGraphs nor the PECOTA projections at Baseball Prospectus expect A-Rod to do much in 2015:

To boot, the projections don’t think much of the Yankees as a whole.

FanGraphs’ projections have them finishing with only 83 wins, and Baseball Prospectus’ projections have them finishing a tick below .500. This has much to do with the Yankees offense, which, not surprisingly, doesn’t look as strong as the club’s pitching after two straight offensively challenged seasons.

This is the long way of saying what many Yankees fans must already know: This particular Yankees team isn’t very good, and it’s hard to see how A-Rod’s return will make much of a difference. In all likelihood, his return will consist of a mediocre team wasting millions of dollars on a washed-up cheat.

And so, it is with this outlook that A-Rod will now try to win back the Yankee faithful in his return to baseball in 2015. That’s some challenge.

There is, however a bright side. Rodriguez has tackled a challenge like this before, and at the time, it looked like one of the great redemption stories in baseball history.

Surely you remember the 2009 season. That was when A-Rod, speaking not even two years after a stern denial, admitted to using steroids earlier in his career. He was also coming off a 2008 season that saw him take a big step back from an otherworldly 2007 season, which contributed to the Yankees missing the postseason for the first time in, oh, forever. And then that March, he went in for his first hip surgery.

With all that going on, A-Rod wasn’t in many good graces when he finally returned to play ball in early May. His response, however, was to hit 30 jacks with a .933 OPS in what was left of the regular season and then to almost single-handedly carry the Yankees to their 27th World Series title.

It’s easy to look back on all that with a scowl now. But at the time, it was a darn cool redemption story. Darn cool enough, even, to give The New York Times and Los Angeles Times the warm fuzzies.

It’s extremely unlikely that A-Rod has another season like that in him. He’s old and rusty, and his glory days are several years in the past. If he even manages to make it all the way through the 2015 season, odds are he’s going to be a depressingly bad cog in a third straight October-less Yankees season.

But let’s say A-Rod manages to beat the odds. Let’s say he turns the clock back and becomes the kind of middle-of-the-order hitter the Yankees could surely use. In short, let’s say he’s A-Rod again.

Given the otherwise fragile state of the Yankees these days, a return to form like that would be huge. Huge enough, maybe, to boost the Yankees from a fringe playoff contender to a definite playoff contender. In that case, A-Rod’s return could be the difference between the Yankees going home at the end of September and living to fight in October, where anything can happen.

It’s hard to imagine the rest of the baseball world enjoying that, but Yankees fans would. A-Rod will have proved them all wrong, and delightfully so. His bat will have made him a true Yankee again.

And that, surely, is something no apology is ever going to do.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com