Sean Rodriguez: Versatility a plus
Rays do-everything player hopes to play pitcher, catcher
I don't think there's a position on the field that I can't or won't play. I have no problem doing what needs to be done. It's a matter of can it be done, and I believe that I can do it.
I think a lot of the reluctance to playing multiple positions has to do with the fear of playing a position to which you are not accustomed. For example, in catching there is the fear of being back there and waiting for that pitch in the dirt. Calling a game is different. That's much harder, but I think I can do it if needed.
I've played seven of the nine positions on the field in my career. I haven't pitched or caught a game yet. I'm hoping that I get a chance to do both. I wouldn't mind getting an inning or two at both spots. I don't need a whole game, or even to start at either of those positions. I just want to complete my resume.
When people ask me what my natural position is I always tell them the outfield. Playing in high school, I was pretty much a center fielder until my senior year. That's where I feel most comfortable and most at ease. Everything seems to come very naturally to me when I'm out there, although I feel the same way when I'm in the middle infield.
During my senior year of high school, I switched from center field to the middle infield. I had heard from different people that I would project higher in the draft as an infielder. I think I have some good speed, but the Major Leagues feature guys in center field who can fly. I decided to take their advice and go for the change. Apparently, it worked.
Coming up through the Angels' Minor League system, I primarily played shortstop. I had one manager who liked to mix up my positions, which I like a lot. It was mostly shortstop, though.
I have a different glove for almost every position. I have one for short and second, one for third, one for first and one for the outfield. I even have a catcher's mitt, just in case.
I think having this versatility will allow me to extend my career. I was once told by someone that using your bat will get you a lot of money, but using your glove will get you a lot of years up here. Most guys are only going to hit for so long. If you can pick it, you can always find a job somewhere. I'm just happy and lucky to be where I am today. I couldn't ask for anything more. Of course, I would like to play every day, but I'm 30, still playing and extremely blessed.
There are a lot of guys in the big leagues who bring versatility. Elliot Johnson is a guy who can play infield and outfield very well. Mike McCoy is another one of those guys. He plays both areas very well. Not every team has a guy like that. Most teams carry extra infielders and outfielders.
Chone Figgins is a guy who I got to see a lot when I was coming up in the system. I used to think of him as one of those guys, but now I'm so used to seeing him at third base I don't always associate him in that category. Watching him play and how he made adjustments at each position was great, and I learned a lot from him in that regard.
Sean Rodriguez played in a career-high 131 games in his second season with the Rays in 2011. The Miami native broke in with the Angels in 2008.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.