Friday, December 11, 2009
Pudge Rodriguez Side Session With Reporters
What really stood out as Our Washington Nationals new catcher stepped in front of the podium at Nationals Park late this afternoon to casually talk with the local media after his introduction--was the sight of "Pudge" Rodriguez looking at each and every press member right in their face (eye to eye) as he answered each and every one-on-one question asked. Unlike any player yet to don a Nationals Jersey beforehand--Rodriguez was, seemingly, gauging who he was engaged with and chatting. Our New Number 7 apparently examining each reporter--looking for clues as to who exactly covers Washington's Major League Team.
Rodriguez introduced himself and shook hands with each correspondent.
And not once during this nearly eight minute segment, did "Pudge" lower his head. Nor, did he take his eyes off the questioner. Piercing eyes that never lost their focus. A very impressive showing--giving respect to each and every reporter on hand. Maybe, the best moment of the entire afternoon.
Here is the transcript of Pudge Rodriguez's Side Session With Reporters. He is very soft-spoken.
Question: I spoke to Jack McKeon (former Marlins Manager with Pudge) and he thinks that you can bring the pitching earned run average down by a run or more (with this team). Why do you think you can do that? What do you think of these young pitchers?
Pudge: “It happens with me behind the plate because I am a catcher who is very simple behind the plate. I am not trying to be too difficult for a pitcher. I just try to make the pitcher feel the most comfortable that I can when he pitches—very simple. I believe in strike one, that is my conversation with all the pitchers. I just want them to get ahead all the time. Jump ahead, get ahead, that is basically what I tell the pitchers throughout my whole career. I love for them to be around the plate and I want the pitcher to be within the strike zone and try to make the other hitters put the ball in play.”
Question: Jack McKeon said you were the reason you guys (The Marlins) won in 2003. He said it was more than just behind the plate, but in the clubhouse. How can you make this clubhouse better?
Pudge: (Smiling Broadly) “That is the way I am. I am a guy that loves to win. I want my teammates to do well too. This is a team. We are a family. When you put on this uniform, we are a family. So, we have to take care of ourselves. We have to respect ourselves and support ourselves day in and day out. Basically, that is my philosophy and the way I am. And you are going to see me in the clubhouse talking to guys about—whatever. That is how I grew up. Back in ’91 with Nolan Ryan and all those guys they taught me to be that type of player to help others. And that is the way I am.”
Question: When you signed as a free agent with The Tigers, they were coming off a 100-loss season. What was the reaction of that signing? (Me?—Pudge) No, others in the game—when you did that?
Pudge: “Well, they say: ‘why are you doing that?’ ‘Why are you signing here?’ And a lot of people told me why did I not go to a winning team? Detroit is a Major League Ball Club. You cannot take anything for granted. Every team in the Big Leagues is a good team. If you are in the Big Leagues it is because you are a good player. It doesn’t matter if you finish last in the division, or finish first—whatever. We go out there and we are all good players—that is the reason for that. And when I made that decision, I made that decision with a lot of pride. I am going to try to make this team get into the playoffs and that is what we did. Two years later in 2006, we were in Game 1 of The World Series. Nobody thought that was going to happen, but when you have good chemistry and you have a good clubhouse, you have a good group of people in the clubhouse and they get along well—you take that into the field and you win a lot of games. I don’t know my teammates yet. They are probably thinking the same way. But with my (talent) and their (talents), we are going to bring it all together. It is going to be much better.”
Question: The fact that The Tigers accomplished what they did after you joined them—does that give you more confidence this time around coming to a 100-loss team again and thinking it can happen again?
Pudge: “I don’t want to see that happen again (100-loss year). I don’t want to see that happen again. I think this club is much better than the ’04 (Tigers). ’04 in Detroit was a very challenging season for us. But we ended up winning 72 games. From 114 losses in 2003, to be able to finish the next season with at least 72 wins was a big thing for us. But here, I see this ball club differently. They are a completely different team. This team hits very well and they are going to pitch very well. I am going to do my best behind the plate to make those guys do the job, lower their e.r.a. and win—get the ‘W’. The most important thing is to have a lot of ‘W’s’ for the season.”
Question: Have you talked to Jesus Flores at all?
Pudge: “No, I haven’t talked to him. I am sure I will probably talk to him, as I will see him in spring training. We talked before. When I played last year here--when I came from Houston—we talked a little bit behind the batting cage. He is a nice guy. I talked to Alex Cintron and he told me that he’s a very nice guy that loves to learn. He likes to listen and that is the bottom line. I like those kinds of players. They love to listen. And I look forward to talking to him, to be his teammate, and being on the same team.”
Question: If both of you are healthy, how do you see the playing time split up between you two?
Pudge: “Right now, I am ready to play every day. Spring training is in two months and we shall see what happens. But I am ready to play. They (The Nationals) brought me to the club to do my best, to bring my experience in the game behind the plate and to help the pitching staff to pitch great this year. And basically, that is my goal."
With that final answer, the Pudge Rodriguez Side Session With Reporters concluded. Ivan had to clear out for a late afternoon flight back home. Coming up later this evening--the side session with Mike Rizzo--which ended the media availabilities at Nationals Park today.
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