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Pudge Misses Marlins


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Pudge admits missing a lot about Marlins

 

By Mike Berardino

Staff writer

Posted June 11 2004

 

DETROIT -- The greatest catcher in Marlins history was sitting by his locker one rainy afternoon this week, chatting with a visitor about the unproven player who was supposed to replace him.

 

Instead, Ramon Castro hit a miserable .135 before landing on the disabled list 10 days ago, his Marlins future as much in question as the wisdom of entrusting such a vital position to a $400,000 maybe.

 

"It's tough because I know that he can do better," Pudge Rodriguez was saying from his quiet corner of Comerica Park. "Castro just needs to be himself."

 

A long pause. A sad smile.

 

"It would be nice for me to be there right now," Rodriguez says.

 

As much as Rodriguez has settled into his new surroundings, as much as he has helped trigger the resurgence of a downtrodden Detroit Tigers franchise, he is very much a man in conflict.

 

One foot in the Rust Belt, the other still firmly planted in South Florida.

 

He misses his family, having seen his three children a grand total of two days since the end of spring training. He misses his Miami mansion. He misses his teammates. He misses his old manager, Jack McKeon, whom he calls "Mr. McKeon."

 

"Basically," he says, "I miss pretty much everything."

 

Those pangs of separation only figure to sharpen starting tonight when the Marlins visit Comerica Park for the opener of a three-game interleague series.

 

He openly wishes the Marlins had been willing to grant him the four-year, $40 million contract he eventually received from the Tigers (provided his lower back holds up). In the end, Rodriguez rejected a Marlins offer that contained a guaranteed commitment of just two years and somewhere between $12 million and $16 million.

 

"What happened with me and the Marlins, it was a situation where nobody got close to any deal," he says. "Believe me, it was a great place to play. When you play with a team and they give you a World Series and you do what we did last year, you're still going to miss that team for a long time."

 

Rodriguez, 32, keeps in touch with Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo and has strong feelings for many others on the team.

 

"I'm missing all my teammates," Rodriguez says. "I'm missing them a lot, that's for sure, but they've got a job to do and I've got to do my job. It's going to be a nice weekend. I'm going to see them and talk to them, at least for three days."

 

He still roots from afar, still follows the Marlins in the box scores and the highlights. He proudly notes the continued emergence of Brad Penny, laments the latest blister-related setback for Josh Beckett and expresses happiness at the return of A.J. Burnett.

 

"I follow them all the time," Rodriguez says. "Absolutely. I still believe they can win the pennant. If they keep doing what they're doing, they've got a good chance."

 

With Castro's flop, veteran backup Mike Redmond has taken on more of the playing time and done a credible job. Even so, Marlins catchers entered Thursday's play batting a combined .208 and slugging just .297, ranking them second-to-last and last in the National League, respectively.

 

"Let's face it, Pudge is a future Hall of Fame catcher," McKeon says of the 10-time Gold Glove winner. "Anybody with his experience, you'd be crazy to say you didn't miss him. He's not here, so we can't worry about it. Red has done a very good job. We have to live with what we've got."

 

Behind Rodriguez, meanwhile, the Tigers are 27-32, a half-dozen games out of first place in the American League Central. Coming off an epic 119-loss season, the improvement has been nothing short of miraculous.

 

Rodriguez, batting .350 and easily leading the All-Star balloting for his position, receives much of the credit for the turnaround.

 

"It's just a pleasure to be able to put him in a lineup on a regular basis," Tigers manager Alan Trammell says. "This is a whole different ball club, and he's probably the No. 1 reason why. Not `probably.' He is."

 

Young left-hander Nate Robertson, who came over from the Marlins before last season, raves about the catcher's approachable nature.

 

"When he first came in, with all the credentials he has, it can be intimidating for a young guy like me," says Robertson, who ranks among the AL strikeout leaders. "But Pudge is a guy that I can go and sit down and talk to -- before a game, in-between starts. He's really easy to work with."

 

Tigers trainer Kevin Rand marvels at how hard Rodriguez works, saying it's nothing for him to head back onto the field after games and run sprints or spend another 45 minutes doing cardio exercises before leaving the ballpark.

 

"The guy just has a tremendous work ethic," Rand says, "and that can't help but rub off on our young players."

 

Aside from some minor inflammation in his wrist, Rodriguez has been trouble free.

 

Adds Trammell: "I know last year was a big step in his career. Being a catcher on a world championship team, I think, has taken him to another level."

 

Playing at home for the first and only season of his career was another eye-opener for Rodriguez. He eagerly talks about South Florida schools letting out this week and his wife, Maribel, and three children joining him next Thursday in New York City.

 

He will miss daughter Amanda's gymnastics and dance recital this weekend, but at least the family will be together for her ninth birthday next weekend. Dereck and Ivanna are looking forward to the reunion as well.

 

"They feel sad because they don't see their father," Rodriguez says. "It's tough on all of us. After last year my kids were used to seeing me, day in and day out. Seeing my wife, living at home.

 

"A lot of my friends in Miami are sad too because [the Marlins] didn't get the deal done to keep me there. It's kind of frustrating. I was one of the players that wanted to stay in Florida, wanted to play in Florida, but it didn't work out."

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:boo-woo cry yourself a river pudge. i have gained more respect for him now then 3 months ago. atleast he knows he made a mistake. but i do miss him. but i just dont get it he had it all here. family, championships,friends, money. he threw that out the window for a couple million more. y he did that, y his family didnt convince him more to stay, i dont know?? :confused

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Rodriguez rejected a Marlins offer that contained a guaranteed commitment of just two years and somewhere between $12 million and $16 million.

 

 

I have a hard time believing that. Pudge is nowhere near worth 4 years $40 million, but he's worth more than that. Anyways he got what he wanted. Berardino called the Tigers season miraculous. I wouldn't say that, they did a complete overhaul of the lineup, and they still aren't a good team and will have a tough time winning 70 games.

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Let's face it people, he carried us into the WS and ALL OF YOU would love to have him right now. He cared about these guys. We've been stuck with two backup catchers all year and everyone here knows Pudge would be putting up All-Star numbers if he stayed. He did a lot in his brief stay. He helped out young pitchers a lot. That can't be overlooked. You think Beckett would be learning from Castro?

 

Damn you and your ego, Pudge. If only you would have accepted the offer.

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Pudge sounds like a guy that dumped someone who to his surprise, lived well without him and now he wants them back. Dumpers remorse or something. You feel bad for him until you realize he acts like he had no control over staying in here, when the decision was in his hands. It's so obvious that this is a team that has fun together and many a Marlin chose that over $$$.

 

Still, the team would be pretty sick this year with him there and I'm grateful for his help last year. Imagine a catcher in our line-up batting .350? Oh mama.

 

Oh well.

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I am not going to lie, right now I still miss Pudge and I admit that last year he was one of the biggest pieces of the championship puzzle, and I would love to have him in the lineup today.

 

But he did this too himself so I have no remorse for him feeling lonely. He could have been with family and friends and made another run for a championship, but instead he chose a few more million dollars. This is one guy that does not needs any extra money right now, he would have lived the same life regardless of how much money he took. So good riddings, right now Pudge is just part of the past like D Lee, CJ, Floyd and every other former Marlin.

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"A lot of my friends in Miami are sad too because [the Marlins] didn't get the deal done to keep me there. It's kind of frustrating. I was one of the players that wanted to stay in Florida, wanted to play in Florida, but it didn't work out."

He makes it seem like they didn't want him back. They

tried to work out a deal... he just wanted more money... too much.

 

I miss him though, he bonded great with the team and added that extra spark... he was a great guy while he was here.

 

Then again sometimes I don't miss him. He left a great team of friends who need him and his family for more $$$. I don't want a guy on our team who doesn't want to be on our team, who only see's money.

 

Damn why couldn't he just take that deal?

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"A lot of my friends in Miami are sad too because [the Marlins] didn't get the deal done to keep me there. It's kind of frustrating. I was one of the players that wanted to stay in Florida, wanted to play in Florida, but it didn't work out."

He makes it seem like they didn't want him back. They

tried to work out a deal... he just wanted more money... too much.

 

I miss him though, he bonded great with the team and added that extra spark... he was a great guy while he was here.

 

Then again sometimes I don't miss him. He left a great team of friends who need him and his family for more $$$. I don't want a guy on our team who doesn't want to be on our team, who only see's money.

 

Damn why couldn't he just take that deal? Exactly.

 

Why couldn't he just accept the f***ing money?

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"A lot of my friends in Miami are sad too because [the Marlins] didn't get the deal done to keep me there. It's kind of frustrating. I was one of the players that wanted to stay in Florida, wanted to play in Florida, but it didn't work out."

He makes it seem like they didn't want him back. They

tried to work out a deal... he just wanted more money... too much.

 

I miss him though, he bonded great with the team and added that extra spark... he was a great guy while he was here.

 

Then again sometimes I don't miss him. He left a great team of friends who need him and his family for more $$$. I don't want a guy on our team who doesn't want to be on our team, who only see's money.

 

Damn why couldn't he just take that deal? Exactly.

 

Why couldn't he just accept the f***ing money? It sucks that he didn't. As much as I want to hate him he still is the man for what he did last year. Would be nice to have him back in the three spot. One thing I hate is how he tries to make himself sound like Mr. Innocent and Florida completely ripped him off. Marlins were the only team offer anywhere near 10 million last year, but whatever his choice and he will have to suffer through Detroit for years to come instead of possible playoff/championship appearances.

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"A lot of my friends in Miami are sad too because [the Marlins] didn't get the deal done to keep me there. It's kind of frustrating. I was one of the players that wanted to stay in Florida, wanted to play in Florida, but it didn't work out."

He makes it seem like they didn't want him back. They

tried to work out a deal... he just wanted more money... too much.

 

I miss him though, he bonded great with the team and added that extra spark... he was a great guy while he was here.

 

Then again sometimes I don't miss him. He left a great team of friends who need him and his family for more $$$. I don't want a guy on our team who doesn't want to be on our team, who only see's money.

 

Damn why couldn't he just take that deal? Exactly.

 

Why couldn't he just accept the f***ing money? It sucks that he didn't. As much as I want to hate him he still is the man for what he did last year. Would be nice to have him back in the three spot. One thing I hate is how he tries to make himself sound like Mr. Innocent and Florida completely ripped him off. Marlins were the only team offer anywhere near 10 million last year, but whatever his choice and he will have to suffer through Detroit for years to come instead of possible playoff/championship appearances. Yeah I can't hate the guy. I'll never forget going to that game against San Fran when he knocked in those 2 runs with 2 outs in the 11th, and how the crowd absolutely exploded. He's a great player no denying it. I lost a little respect for him, but first and foremost I'm appreciative of what he did for this team and the way he contributed to the magical season.

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and many a Marlin chose that over $$$.

Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, and Chad Fox. enough said. Actually, nobody offered Castillo as much as us, and Fox's offer was only matched by Houston, not over.

 

But I get the point. oh common you know the Yankees would've offered more if Castillo had shown any interest in leaving, and I'm pretty sure Fox was offered more from Houston and he could've returned home, but he stayed loyal to the team.

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and many a Marlin chose that over $$$.

Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, and Chad Fox. enough said. Actually, nobody offered Castillo as much as us, and Fox's offer was only matched by Houston, not over.

 

But I get the point. oh common you know the Yankees would've offered more if Castillo had shown any interest in leaving, and I'm pretty sure Fox was offered more from Houston and he could've returned home, but he stayed loyal to the team. Yeah, I'm sure Houston offered Fox more. I remember being pissed because I thought he was gonna sign with Houston without even thinking about it. But he was loyal. The Sox released him and last year and the Marlins stole him and he was grateful. He loved the team. :thumbup

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and many a Marlin chose that over $$$.

Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, and Chad Fox. enough said. Actually, nobody offered Castillo as much as us, and Fox's offer was only matched by Houston, not over.

 

But I get the point. Didn't the Yankees offer Castillo a 4-year 40 million dollar contract?

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