Another Skill Added to Sean Rodriguez’s MLB Resume`

 
 
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You always hear about a player’s character and their ability to do some interesting things when they are traded to you team, and before tonight I was buying most of the selling that the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays were saying about their “Zorilla-in-Training” Sean Rodriguez. During this year’s Spring Training he did everything but set out the buffet sterno’s and check in the daily Fed Ex packages. He proved to me that he was going to be on my closely watched list this entire season to see if he deserved such acclaim early in 2010.


But I have to tell you Rays Republic, right after Rays starting catcher Dioner Navarro got an early shower and unexpected snack time after serving up a few choice four-letter words while eagerly discussing the merits of a consistent strike zone with Home Plate Umpire Dan Bellino, seeing Rodriguez jog down to the Rays Bullpen, I knew the Rays had bagged a winner in the Scott Kazmir trade.

For as the Rays were adamantly searching for back-up catcher John Jaso, who was in the Rightfield bathroom region and was detained for a few minutes, Rodriguez almost looked like he was going to get some wild initiation time behind the plate during a Major League Baseball game. But it was kind of funny how Rodriguez initially came down to the Rays Bullpen with just a smile and no shin guards or even a chest protector, but within a short time and maybe a few favors in the future for Navarro, he came back out to the Bullpen area and began to stretch and go over some “crouch” exercises with Rays Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos.

 
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And when Rays reliever Lance Cormier was getting warmed up to come into tonight’s game, it was Rodriguez who was situated behind the painted home plate dish on the Tropicana Field’s turf. With Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi by his left shoulder, Rodriguez did an excellent job getting Cormier ready for his outing tonight, and I was further intrigued by this guy who is doing everything and anything to get playing time this season for the Rays. I mean most people might not have known that he is the Rays third catcher option if something should happen to Navarro and Jaso in a contest, and I feel a bit more secure after watching that Bullpen warm up session.


Now that is not to mean I hope or wish to see him out there in anything but an emergency role, but it is a great feeling to see him eagerly get the equipment and take the responsibility head-on and force his way into the game situational scheme of things tonight as a precaution. I have heard from people in the Rays organization that it has been a good amount of time since Rodriguez had donned the catching gear, but I got to tell you, he looked more than capable as he threw the ball to Cormier and did not under or overthrow the ball once.

And some people might think this is a little thing, but sometimes those little things can build not only a player’s confidence in his abilities all over the field, but can transcend into his hitting as he begins to feel like a total member of this Rays team. We have seen Rodriguez this season playing Second Base, Centerfield as a late inning substitute in Chicago for B J Upton, and as a great pinch hitting option already in 2010. He is truly beginning to make people think that the Rays might have found another multifaceted asset that could play any of the eight field positions on the field for the Rays with ease and comfort.

 
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Rodriguez might never have to truly don the catcher’s gear and get behind the plate for real in 2010, but now I know I can trust the judgment of Rays Manager Joe Maddon if he was to position him behind the dish in a lop-sided game, or with a great lead. It might be the next step for Rodriguez’s maturation process to add another glove and equipment to his Major League Baseball resume`, and it would not surprise me in the least if he excelled at catching too.

I just want to say “Bravo” to Rodriguez and hope he knows that by showing that eagerness to learn and to thrust himself into the fire tonight he is gaining more and more of a place in my Rays subconscious as our next evolution of Ben Zobrist.

But the funny thing is that within the next three or four years we might be talking about someone like Rays prospects currently Tim Beckham or even Matt Hall as the “next Rodriguez”…. And that is a great compliment, with or without catching gear in your locker.

 

8 Comments

The Rays always seem to have great young players who can fill in at different positions. I know Rodriguez wasn’t home grown, but I was impressed with him when the Yanks and Rays played. The fact that he can catch too is scary for the rest of the AL East!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
It is kind of funny that the Rays last three “emergency” catchers have all been those guys who seem to do anything and everything on the plate to get time in the game.
A few years ago it was Ty Wigginton. Then in 2009 it was Joe Dillon or the “Dillionaire” as so many of us knew him strapping the gear on like Rodriguez today and getting in the crouch and taking pitches.
But then again, Rays Manager Joe Maddon is an ex-catcher, so maybe he ultimately looks for that special durability and instant ability to rise to the occasion.
I am impressed with Rodriguez more every day and time he hit the Batter’s Box for the Rays.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Rodriguez is a valuable player. Catchers are definitely a hot commodity.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

Cat,
Rodriguez being willing and able to step behind the plate makes him an extra valuable asset now for the Rays. We knew he could man any spot in the infield besides First base, plus spot up in any of the three outfield positions, but giving that extra pizzazz of reliability now behind the plate is getting me to endear him more and more daily.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Wow! Joe Maddon sure knows how to get use out of his players. That is incredible.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com

Homer,
I am so glad people like Jane, yourself and Cat have said basically the same thing here. That Rays Manager Joe Maddon has a unique ability to tap into the reserves of a player and sometimes find that extra inch, emotion, or even ability that can provide anothe element to his ballclub.
You know it takes arare talented individual to be able to look outside the box like Maddon….And so far Maddon has X-ray vision.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I’m glad he’s doing well for you :D Tampa Bay is doing well too! I’m very happy because I like the rays a lot :D. Sean Rodriguez deserves a lot of credit and he needed more playing time. I’m glad he is on a team that can showcase his abilities. I still have confidence in Kaz to have a good season. It was tough for him dealing with the DL so early but he’s slowly coming back

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

Mimi,
I actually was a bit hesistant at first with Sean Rodriguez when the trade first went down in the end of July 2009. But a few of the guys from Durham told me he had a great work ethic, and Rays Manager Joe Maddon asked for him by name for the trade….
He will get a bit more playing itme in the coming week because of at least a short vacation for Rays starting catcher Dioner Navarro after he “bumped” the Home Plate Umpire during their chat last night( Friday).
Sean Rodriguez will be the back-up catcher during that period, and should see at least one game…maybe as soon as Sunday afternoon.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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