- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
- In Colorado, a pot holiday tries to go mainstream
- Ukraine PM vows to find ‘bastards’ behind anti-Semitic fliers
- Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter
Rodriguez left an imprint on the Nationals
Mentoring Ramos, Flores was his major contribution
“He’s the first real free agent I signed as a general manager,” Rizzo said last week. “It’s no coincidence.”
Turns out, the two-year deal Rizzo signed Rodriguez to in December 2009 — a deal that was roundly criticized — was the last real one the 40-year-old will sign. Rodriguez announced his retirement Monday in Arlington, Texas, retiring with the Texas Rangers, where he spent the first 12 years of his All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and MVP career.
It marks the end of a storied career, presents a strong case for the Hall of Fame in five years and makes Washington — a team that possesses one of the best catching corps in the majors — the final stop in his 21-year tour. Rodriguez began his career catching Nolan Ryan. He ended it in catching Stephen Strasburg.
“I’m walking out of the white lines,” an emotional Rodriguez said Monday, after thanking all of the organizations he played for. “But I’m always going to be in baseball for the rest of my life. You guys are going to see me around … It was a great run.”
The Nationals came in at the end of it. The two-year, $6 million pact Rizzo gave Rodriguez before the 2010 season was panned almost immediately. Rodriguez was 38, coming off a year in which he’d hit just .249 with a .280 on-base percentage. Some felt it wasn’t just his offensive skills that were eroding but his sterling defense as well.
His reputation as a lightning rod preceded him. And for every pitcher who loved what he provided behind the plate, plenty of others were skeptical he could be the mentor to a young pitching staff and young catchers the Nationals needed. But Rizzo didn’t see it that way.
“I remember we took a lot of heat for the second year of the deal,” Rizzo said. “But I knew what he was going to bring to the organization … The timeline was such where I thought we needed two years of Pudge to put things in place. What he did with Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores was tremendous. In that sense, he meant a whole lot to us.”
Now, a few feet from where Rodriguez’s locker sat for two years in the Nationals’ clubhouse is the man who essentially took his job — the man he helped train to do so. Rodriguez was the Nationals’ starting catcher for much of 2010, the man behind the plate for Strasburg’s electric debut, but the acquisition of Ramos that July made it all but certain Rodriguez’s role would transition to that of a backup eventually. It was a conversation then-manager Jim Riggleman dreaded having with Rodriguez. And Davey Johnson, too, when Flores supplanted Rodriguez as the team’s backup. Rodriguez started just two games after July 6 last season.
“It could have been ugly,” Rizzo acknowledged. Instead, it was anything but.
Ramos grew up idolizing Rodriguez, who helped the 2003 Florida Marlins win a World Series with Ramos‘ best friend, Miguel Cabrera, and his eyes light up at the mention of his former teammate now. Rodriguez has offered a room in his home to the 24-year-old, invited him to work out with him in Miami in the offseason and checks in with him often via text and the occasional phone call.
“I have to say ‘Thank you,’ for everything he [taught] me,” Ramos said last week, surprised by the news of Rodriguez’s retirement, knowing how badly he wanted to reach 3,000 hits [he is 156 away] and his desire to play three more years in the big leagues.
“Maybe he wants to teach me more,” Ramos said. “I’m excited to get that.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- CHARLES: Holder's undermining of the law deserving of contempt
- Joe Biden's biggest gaffe: VP blowing his 2016 head start
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.