Ivan Rodriguez celebrated the 20th anniversary of his big-league debut Monday, but the Nationals had the day off and then last night he sat on the bench as the man who’s replaced him as the starting catcher, 23-year-old Wilson Ramos, delivered a game-winning homer.
Despite that lack of drama, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote a nice article about the future Hall of Famer’s first 20 years in the majors, beginning with his first game on June 20, 1991.
Rodriguez was still a teenager then and the Rangers were playing the White Sox, whose catcher was 43-year-old Carlton Fisk, who in addition to being a Hall of Famer is also the original “Pudge.”
At this point Rodriguez is one of the worst hitters in the league, but he’s hit more career home runs as a catcher than anyone in baseball history and is the first catcher to top 2,500 career hits, let alone make a serious run at 3,000. He needs 161 more to get there, which is a tall order for a 39-year-old hitting just .224 while playing a couple times per week.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.