Nearly six weeks after he cut his pregame batting practice short at Nationals Park, Washington catcher Ivan Rodriguez will be back there Tuesday preparing to attempt baseball activities for the first time in nearly a week.
Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since July 7 with a strained right oblique, underwent a battery of tests Monday, including an MRI. When the results are read by the medical personnel and with assurances that nothing else is wrong, Rodriguez will test the area and again try to rebuild his strength.
"I'm getting better," Rodriguez said Monday night. "You have to take time to let it heal. It's just one of those things."
Even now, after five days of inactivity, Rodriguez is unsure whether he still will feel the tightness in his oblique when he attempts to swing Tuesday. It has been one of the most challenging stretches of his career.
"It's very difficult for me," he said. "I love playing ball. Not being able to play, it's tough. Every time I try, it still bothers me. But I'm a very positive person, and I'm just going to let it heal. It's very hard to be down, knowing I want to be there, in the dugout with my teammates, but being healthy is the most important thing."
There still is no timetable for Rodriguez's return, and he was unsure whether his desire to continue working out and push his body had hampered his recovery time. Oblique injuries are among the toughest to make a quick return from, and even the slightest of movements can aggravate the area.
"That's a hard question for me to answer," Rodriguez said. "This is the way it is, so I just have to deal with it."
He also said he has not considered the possibility that he could miss the rest of the season.
"I'm not thinking about that," he said. "I'm thinking I can't wait to play and be back with the team - but before I do that, I have to be 100 percent."
When the injury happened July 7, Rodriguez was in significant pain but said he was going to try to avoid the disabled list. One day later, that was not an option. But Rodriguez, who prides himself on his physical shape and workout routine, was remaining active and had progressed to playing catch and hitting soft toss in the batting cage shortly after the All-Star break.
He had to cut short a batting practice session in Houston, however, and has suffered at least two other setbacks since then where he's had to scale back his activity. He returned home to Miami for a week to work out with his physical therapist but couldn't rid himself of the discomfort. He was then sent Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia, who gave him an epidural.
Rodriguez, 39, is 158 hits away from 3,000. He spoke about calling former teammate and friend Derek Jeter when the Yankees shortstop passed the mark this season, and Rodriguez has said that he'd like to play long enough to reach it.
Earlier this season, Rodriguez celebrated the 20th anniversary of his major league debut, and he remains a viable member of the active roster. The Nationals have felt his loss behind the plate, where he was a mentor to Wilson Ramos.
Rodriguez was hitting just .214 in his first season serving as a backup, but he's made his plate appearances count. He has just 25 hits but has produced 19 RBI. Nine of his hits have gone for extra bases. While he's been on the disabled list, the Nationals have had an extended look at Jesus Flores in his first significant major league time since coming back from a major shoulder injury. Flores has started nine games and hit .229 in 37 plate appearances.
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