When San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey broke his leg blocking the plate Wednesday night, one of the first names mentioned as a possible replacement for the young phenom was Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
The Nationals, who are one of few teams with exceptional depth at the catcher position between Wilson Ramos, Rodriguez and Jesus Flores at Triple-A Syracuse, have reportedly been trying to move Rodriguez for the right package since spring training and were immediately linked as a potential trade partner for the Giants.
So far though, all it’s been is rumors. On Friday, Giants general manager Brian Sabean told reporters that he had not contacted a single team about a trade for a catcher, and that they planned to allow Eli Whiteside to get an opportunity for the time being.
As far as the rumors go, none of them reached Rodriguez, who was at his son Ivan Dereck’s high school graduation Friday night.
“Nobody told me anything,” Rodriguez said following Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres. “Not (Nationals general manager Mike) Rizzo, nobody. I can tell you one thing: I feel good where I am. I think this is a great place to be, nice group of guys, I told Rizzo that and I don’t think about it.
“I’m playing for the Washington Nationals right now and I’m focusing on winning ball games and being a good teammate. Those rumors I’ve heard that a whole lot in my 21-year career so I just concentrate to play my game and help my teammates.”
Rodriguez is no stranger to trade rumors, as he pointed out, having been traded from the Detroit Tigers to the New York Yankees at the deadline in 2008 and in 2009 from the Houston Astros back to the team he spent the first 14 years of his professional career with, the Texas Rangers.
As for the play that got Posey hurt, Rodriguez discussed the art of blocking the plate after Saturday’s game — a game in which he made a spectacular sweeping tag on Chase Headley to save a run in the ninth inning. He said he prefers to apply a sweeping tag when he can but the general rule is the softer or less locked your body is when bracing for impact, the less chance of an injury.
“I’ve been in situations early on in my career where I’ve been hit hard,” he said. “But I learned from those things.”
Perhaps most famously, Rodriguez was trucked by J.T. Snow in the National League Division Series on the final out of the clinching game to send the Marlins to the NLCS — as Marlins beat writer Joe Capozzi detailed here.
In that case, Rodriguez had no choice but to block the plate with the Marlins clinging to a 7-6 lead.
“That one hurt a lot,” Rodriguez said Saturday, adding with a smile “But I got an out.”