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article imageOp-Ed: MLB - What's next for Ivan Rodriguez in 2012?

By Leigh Goessl     Mar 8, 2012 in Sports
Veteran baseball player Ivan Rodriguez is still looking for work. A free-agent now, his last ball club, the Washington Nationals, hasn't re-signed him for the 2012 season, and was long speculated it wasn't going to happen.
The 14-time All-Star player, who is also a 13-time Gold Glove winner, has an impressive career and is a future Hall of Famer. He also received the American League MVP back in 1999 when he played with the Texas Rangers.
Currently 'Pudge' Rodriguez is out seeking a job, reportedly having recently pitched himself as a back-up catcher for the New York Mets. According to the New York Daily News, the Mets declined to sign him though, citing adding another catcher to the Mets' roster is "not currently a priority.”
As a fan, while not surprising, it's disappointing Rodriguez won't be playing for Washington this year. Granted last year wasn't his best season as he was on the Disabled List (DL) for a good part of the season and the Nats have a solid catcher in Wilson Ramos, and backup Jesus Flores.
However, despite Rodriguez not getting a lot of field time, that didn't stop fingers from being crossed Pudge would put in an appearance at a game.
Rodriguez brings so much energy and a positive vibe to the game; a real team player and a solid mentor to younger players.
On Sundays, the Nationals' ballpark designates players and/or coaches to sign autographs for fans. Towards the end of the 2011 season, Ivan Rodriguez was one of the listed players to sign and meet with fans before the game. One of the longest lines I'd ever seen for this weekly event, and those lines can be pretty long. Perhaps a testimony to how many fans love this player.
Not to forget the standing ovation fans gave Pudge at his last start in Nationals Park.
But what's going to happen in 2012? According to MLB Trade Rumors, there might be a shot for Rodriguez to land a position with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Boston Globe noted the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to Jose Molina as their starter and reported, "Now the Rays are looking for a backup - a spot that Boras might be eyeing for Pudge Rodriguez."
It's alluded in the Boston Globe piece that Rodriguez will play in 2012. How it shakes out, however, is anyone's guess.
Others suggest Arizona should pick Pudge up, stating he is one of the "greatest defensive catchers of all time." Reportedly, the Arizona Diamondbacks have some interest.
Rodriguez has said he wants to get another shot at winning in the World Series as he did with the Marlins' ball club in 2003 when they were the champs.
The 41-year-old Rodriguez has made it no secret he wants to reach that 3,000 hits milestone before he retires, as he's only 156 hits shy of hitting that goal.
Rodriguez, aside from being a hard worker, has a lot to offer in terms of personality, skill, talent, and knowledge of the game that only comes with experience. A challenge is, many teams appear to be looking for younger players these days, and it doesn't help that Rodriguez spent a good amount of time off the plate last season with an injury, then came back too soon (his sentiments). Reportedly, Rodriguez continues to work out about 3-4 hours a day, keeping himself in top shape, saying he can't control whether or not a call comes, but he can control what shape he's in.
After 21-seasons of Big League Baseball, it'd be nice to see him hit the 3,000-hit milestone, no matter the team.
Although, I'd have loved that moment to be at Nationals' Park, but that possibility seems to be pretty dim at this point.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated last month, Rodriguez said, "My situation is kind of hard. I'm talking from my heart. I have a lot left in my tank. I want teams to know I can help them. I know what I can do, and I want them to know too."
He really doesn't want to think about retirement at this point, stating, "Sometimes, I'm going to have to sit down and ask, 'Should I continue?' But, that time is not yet. If you work hard and take care of yourself, you can still play. I feel great. I'm happy and I know teams can count on me.''
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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