Pudge returns to playoffs spotlight in new role
Former All-Star and Gold Glove catcher calling World Series for Univisión
BOSTON -- When professional athletes finish their careers, they often turn to the media side of the business as a way to stay involved in the game. At major events such as the Major League Baseball postseason, it's commonplace to find dozens of former players wearing press credentials and holding microphones as part of the gigantic media contingent that follows playoff teams through October.
Beginning this week, count Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez as part of the pack. He's working for Spanish-language broadcast television network Univisión, a gig that he accepted just in time for the World Series.
"They contacted me to see if I was interested in coming to work for TV," Rodriguez said at the Cardinals' 45-minute media session in the State Street Pavilion at Fenway Park on Tuesday. "I'm available, and being able to see the guys again after such a long time and see a World Series game is always a good thing."
Rodriguez retired at the beginning of the 2012 season following a 21-year career that included tours with the Rangers (13 years), Tigers (five), Nationals (two), Yankees, Astros and Marlins (one). He compiled a .296 average, 2,844 hits and 311 home runs. Rodriguez played in five postseasons, winning a World Series title with the Marlins in 2003.
Rodriguez is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive catchers of all time, a sentiment that also applies today to his fellow Puerto Rican countryman, Yadier Molina. A five-time Gold Glove Award winner and five-time All-Star, Molina is considered to be a lifeline for a Cards club making its fourth World Series appearance in nine years.
So naturally, the two found each other among a sea of reporters from all over the country and world at media day. Except this time, Rodriguez was the one asking the questions when the cameras started rolling.
"It's a little different," Rodriguez said. "I used to be in uniform, and all of you were asking me the questions."
Just how far back to Molina and Rodriguez go? Little League, where Rodriguez played for Molina's father.
"He's a good kid," Rodriguez said. "I used to see him in the field. Those were good times."
Following his retirement, Rodriguez took about a year off and then rejoined his former organization, the Rangers, as a special instructor. He works 75 days a year for them, mostly touring the Minor League affiliates to work with catching prospects.
Rodriguez's year-round home is in Miami, and he commutes to Dallas every so often to consult with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.
But with a movie-star smile and enough charisma to fill a press box, Rodriguez's best future may be in front of the camera.
"As long as I keep moving," he said with a grin, "I don't get bored."