LOS ANGELES — Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez’s stay on the disabled list is going to be longer than originally anticipated after he suffered a setback in his recovery from a right oblique strain this week and is headed to his Miami home to work with a physical therapist for the Miami Heat.
Rodriguez, who had worked up to hitting off a tee and then live batting practice, had to cut his last such session short on Wednesday in Houston when he continued to feel tightness in the right oblique area. He did not do any work Thursday and did not plan to do any Friday. He will leave the team sometime this weekend and head to Miami where he anticipates to stay about a week. He suffered the injury on Thursday, July 7 when he was scratched from that night’s lineup with the strain.
“It’s not letting up,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “He’s just going to back off and get some physical therapy. (This physical therapist) has worked with Pudge a lot so he’s going to go down there and hopefully he can relieve the tightness which has really been causing him to feel something. You don’t want to take a chance there because you can tear something.”
The severity of the pain can be seen in the length of time Rodriguez anticipates needing in Miami (a week) before he can begin baseball activities again.
“It just feels not normal,” Rodriguez said. “I’m dying to play, but it doesn’t feel normal.”
“I know he’d go out there 60 percent and I said I’d like him at 60 percent,” Johnson said. “But not at the risk of losing him.”
Rodriguez, who is 158 hits away from 3,000 in his career, was hitting .214 but he seemed to make every hit he did get count: in 25 hits this season, he has 19 RBI. He also was adept at handling the Nationals pitching staff even as a guy who didn’t play every day. That burden now falls to Jesus Flores, who has started three games since being called up on July 8.
Flores was once considered the possible catcher of the future for the Nationals before an awful shoulder injury derailed those plans. Johnson, who recommended Flores to then-GM Jim Bowden after seeing him play one game in the minor leagues, still doesn’t see the same arm strength that Flores once had but feels that playing here on the type of schedule he will be could help him to build that.
“I like everything about him,” Johnson said. “He’s not throwing like he did a couple years ago, before he hurt his shoulder, but he’s got a real quick release, gets it down there in a hurry.
“I’m going to use him like I was using Pudge, especially in the summer months when its hot… I hope he’s not just babying it because it’s bothering him. But he used to throw good.”
Early Friday afternoon, Flores was doing just that on the field at Dodger Stadium, making between 10 and 15 throws down to second base. Doing that every day that he doesn’t play, Johnson said, could help him continue to regain the strength with which he once threw. Flores also has a hit in each of the last two games he’s started for the Nationals.