(AP Photo by Kevin Wolf. Mike Rizzo can't believe Scott Boras didn't tell his client that the Nats wanted him to be a mentor and backup catcher in Washington. But look on the bright side, NatsTown: they'll have two years to figure Pudge's role out.)
How do you say "backup" en español?
"I'm ready to play every day. We discussed that. I'm a player that I still can play every day and I will play every day. And basically the thing is just, you know, to do my best for the club. I know that it's hard for me to play 162 games. That's impossible for a catcher. But as long as I'm healthy and I'm feeling great physically, I'll be in the field playing."
(Ivan Rodriguez, via Chatter/Washington Times, 12/11/2009)
Since the announced signing of Ivan Rodriguez by the Nats earlier this week, every word out of Rizzo et al. has pointed to Jesus Flores as the starter, Pudge as his backup (and mentor, whatever that means).
But at his introductory press conference today, Pudge emphatically declared his desire to play every day. Actually, more than that: he emphatically declared he would be the starter. Not that we expected Pudge to come out of the gate saying: "Great! I'm looking forward to riding the pine and getting a start or two a week! That's why I signed with Washington!" but his comments at the presser were surprising, to say the least, based on the way the deal was spun by the Nationals all week.
But Bill Ladson (sort of) shed a little light on the situation over at Nationals.com, with help from a shadowy, unnamed source (whose name rhymes with Kan Stasten?):
However, a source told MLB.com that Rodriguez most likely will be the 2010 Opening Day catcher for Washington because manager Jim Riggleman does not want to rush Flores back on the field.
The Nationals want to go slow with Flores, the source said. "By June, Flores and Rodriguez may split time, or [Riggleman] may go with the hot hand. We know this -- Rodriguez is not going to play 100 games."
So, Pudge is likely the starter for Opening Day: but are we to believe the "cautiously optimistic" Rizzo, that Jesus Flores will be 100% by Spring Training? Or does Ladson's source mean "Rodriguez is not going to play 100 games", because he is going to play 130 games?
Guess this is Jim Riggleman's problem to sort out now.
Finaly, Pudge will be wearing #7 in DC, a number worn proudly by:
- Brad Wilkerson CF (2005)
- Wiki Gonzalez C (2006)
- Felipe Lopez 2B (2006) [updated 11:25pm, thank you SBF]
- Nook Logan CF (2007)
- Roger Bernadina CF (2008)
- Emilio Bonifacio 2B of the future (2008)
- Josh Bard C (2009)
There's a punchline in there somewhere about Pudge, Wiki, and Nook, but we'll leave it alone.