Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays' Sean Rodriguez yearns for everyday job

Sean Rodriguez, making the pivot after tagging Robinson Cano at second, would like to play one position daily.


Sean Rodriguez, making the pivot after tagging Robinson Cano at second, would like to play one position daily.

PORT CHARLOTTE — As Rays manager Joe Maddon scrolls through his definition of the ultimate super utility player, it's obvious that Sean Rodriguez is pretty much the textbook example.

Rodriguez is versatile enough, athletic enough, savvy enough and willing enough to play anywhere on the field — infield, outfield and catcher if asked, and plenty of arm to pitch if ever needed — and talented enough to do it all well.

"For me," Maddon said, "the real Super-U guy can play shortstop and centerfield. That's a keeper. And if he can add catching into that, my God, he's a franchise player."

As impressive a portfolio as that it is, it's not enough for Rodriguez.

What he'd really like, at 25 and entering his second full season in the majors, is the chance to play every day — moving around if he has to but preferably at one position, either second base or shortstop.

"I want to be a starting guy at one position every day," Rodriguez said. "I don't want to say that I don't like doing the utility role, because, of course, I don't mind. But, yes, I would love an everyday job, only because I know what I'm capable of doing could help the team out. If given that chance to find that groove, that everyday groove, I think it could help the team."

There's nothing wrong with Rodriguez thinking that way, Maddon says.

But the Rays don't think he's ready to get it right.

More specifically, that Rodriguez, a right-handed hitter, isn't yet able to hit right-handed pitchers on a consistent enough basis to be in the lineup every day.

"It's all about his bat," Maddon said. "It's nothing else. If he's able to grow as a hitter against right-handed pitchers, he can be an everyday second baseman."

And that's where Rodriguez — who came up as a shortstop with the Angels before being switched to second base — has no choice but to really be a team player.

Maddon points out, correctly, that Rodriguez has failed thus far to show he can hit right-handed pitching in the big leagues: A career .226 average, .276 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage (a .646 OPS), compared to .250/.335/.381 (.716) vs. lefties, albeit in a small sample as he has fewer than 600 total plate appearances (which is about a full season) over three years with the Angels and Rays.

But Rodriguez counters, correctly, that he has hit right-handers in the minor leagues (with a .276 average his past four seasons) and in spring training (where teammates joke he'd be a charter member of the Spring Hall of Fame) and merely needs an opportunity to do so on a regular basis in the majors.

"Some people say, 'Well, you can hit in spring training,' " Rodriguez said. "I don't see it like that. I see it as I can hit in spring training because I play every day. … So I want to keep facing righties, and I want to show them I can hit righties."

But — like lefty swinging outfielder Matt Joyce, who is hoping for the same chance against left-handers — Rodriguez is left living a conundrum: How to show he's better against right-handers without getting to face any?

Maddon understands but says the Rays are not set up that way right now. In other words, barring injury or an unforeseen change in plans, Rodriguez is likely headed to another season of part-time play, sharing second base with Ben Zobrist, filling in elsewhere as needed.

"His defense is among the best, he's a very good baserunner, he understands the game, he's all about winning, he's a great team guy, he drips with intangibles," Maddon said. "It's just that one area — when he gets better right on right, he'll take off."

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Tampa Bay Rays' Sean Rodriguez yearns for everyday job 03/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. State baseball: Bishop McLaughlin bows out of Class 3A semifinals


    FORT MYERS — One inning into Bishop McLaughlin's Class 3A state semifinal against Fort Myers Canterbury, things could not have gone much better for the Hurricanes. They grabbed a quick one-run lead and Canterbury ace Sam Keating was forced out of the game with a nagging neck injury.

     Chris Berglund (18) of Bishop McLaughlin, at bat during second inning of the FHSAA class 3A semi-final on Friday May 26, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Canterbury, Fort Myers, defeated Bishop 7 to 4. Canterbury will play in the 3A championship tomorrow.
  2. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead


    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  3. Video preview: Rays open tough road trip facing Twins tonight


    After splitting a four-game series against the Angels to wrap up a winning homestand, the Rays tonight open a nine-game, 10-day roadtrip with the first game of the weekend series with the Twins:

  4. For starters: Rays, Archer take on surprising Twins to open road trip


    UPDATE, 4:11: Interesting that Bourjos is not in lineup vs. LHP Santiago and lefty swinger Dickerson is, but Twins LH starter Hector Santiago has allowed a .500 average (13-for-26) to lefties, but .210 (35-for-167) to righties.

    Here is the Rays lineup:

  5. Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety


    If someone's house was engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?

    Of course not.

    Fans await the beginning of overtime between the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February. [Associated Press]