When the Nationals began the year, the plan was to phase Wilson Ramos in as the team’s every day catcher and transition Ivan Rodriguez to a more traditional backup role. The two first began splitting time, then Ramos was playing three and four days in a row.
But on his second day as Nationals manager, Davey Johnson informed Rodriguez that he’d be playing him a bit more than the veteran had been previously. Every third day, Rodriguez will catch and Ramos will continue to get two games in a row between Rodriguez’s starts.
“I know they’ve probably been going on matchups but Ramos is going to be the primary and you’re going to be right there,” Johnson told the catcher. “Two for Ramos, one for you and that’s where I’m going.”
Rodriguez has transitioned well to a backup role this season, providing valuable at-bats off the bench sparingly and sliding in effortlessly on his days behind the plate. Even at age 39, Rodriguez is still one of the best defensive catchers in the major leagues and has displayed his throwing arm on several occasions this season.
He also got just the 17th pinch-hit RBI of his career Saturday night, driving in the winning run in the Nationals victory over the Pirates in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
“In the same way, he’s a weapon off the bench,” Johnson said. “He proved that the other day with the game-winning hit. I have no qualms, especially when we’re banged up, about rolling the dice and using my last catcher but in that conversation with Pudge he said, ‘Skip, I know we’re banged up, I’ll play anywhere on the field.’ I said, ‘Well let’s just hold it right now, you’re catching.’”