"I know it's supposed to be standing-room-only there tonight," Gardner said. "I was joking with Mark Littlefield, our trainer -- it's probably the second-biggest crowd they've ever had, except for when I was there last year [on Minor League rehab]. I think it'll mean a lot. I think they'll enjoy seeing him play, and I think he'll enjoy his time there as well."
Manager Joe Girardi plans to assign one of the team's starting pitchers to watch A-Rod's at-bats, which are being broadcast from Charleston, and joked that Charleston's players will probably enjoy the big league postgame spread Rodriguez is expected to provide.
"I'm sure it's pretty exciting for them, they're able to see Alex down there," Girardi said. "I'm sure they'll have quite a crowd tonight, and probably a little bit more media attention than they're used to.
"But it's probably good for those kids to see that so they understand what it's like when you get here. There's a lot of people that are around watching everything you do. I'm sure they're enjoying it."
Gardner was born in Holly Hill, S.C., and attended the College of Charleston, making the team as a walk-on. He played one game at Joseph P. Riley Ballpark last year, his only professional experience in Charleston.
"I live pretty close to there now, I grew up close to there and went to college down there," he said. "Basically, my whole life, I've been from that area. It's a beautiful ballpark; I'm sure it's one of the nicest in the [South Atlantic] League. It's a great place to play."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.