Pudge Shut Down, Hopes To Play Four More Years

Mark J. Miller of YahooSports.com reports that Washington Nationals Catcher Ivan Rodriguez will not catch another inning this season.

This is not due to injury or personal reasons; it is because the Washington Nationals are finally doing what fans have waiting for all along: pushing the youth movement.

Earlier this year, the Nats asked Ivan Rodriquez, a “first ballot hall of famer,” in the words of Nats manager Davey Johnson and eyes of many, to become the backup catcher in order to let catcher Wilson Ramos learn the position better. He accepted the role with open arms and agreed to serve as a mentor for Ramos.

Last week, the Nationals shut down Livan Hernandez for the remainder of the season in order to allow younger arms get some big league experience, and Hernandez obliged and agreed to serve as a coach for the remainder of the season, but did not rule out returning to the organization next season in a different role, but still as a player.

Now they are doing the same routine with Pudge, shutting him down for the rest of September to allow other, younger players to get some experience in the big leagues so that the team can move forward going into 2012 spring training with a better idea of how to comprise the roster.

Again, Rodriguez, like Hernandez, did not say he is retiring, despite being the ripe age of 39. In fact, Pudge said he intends to play four more years, and will continue his pursuit for 3,000 hits (he is 158 short).

The reason this is noteworthy is because these are the two best examples I have ever seen of consummate professionalism on the part of Livan Hernandez and Pudge Rodriguez. These two are being asked to sit out the remainder of a season, in which they are being paid to play, so that their team can look to go in a different direction-and that is OK with both of them. Again, I shake my head when I see stuff like that because it really takes a lot to swallow your pride and accept a role they have both been given. Pudge will have 3,000 hits by the end of his career and like Hernandez, already has a World Series ring. This just makes me think that the Nationals really do treat their players correctly. It speaks volumes about the front office and GM Mike Rizzo and his staff and ownership, because players do not do something like this unless they have a great deal of respect for the organization they play for as a whole.