Archive for the ‘ Ivan Rodriguez ’ Category

10 Latino MLB ’09 Season Highlights

Ivan Rodriguez.jpgFor more than a century, fans across America have called out Major League Baseball as “The Show”.

It is true is America’s pastime. It is also true in Latin America.

For Latinos beisbol is the greatest show and season after season there is a moment, a feat or an accomplishment that will go to the history books.

These were the 10 Latino season highlights of 2009:

  • Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez with the Houston Astros recorded career game number 2,227 on June 17 against the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez career game 2,227 as a catcher passed Carlton Fisk for most games caught in major league history. Rodriguez was traded on August 18 to the Rangers.
  • Omar Vizquel of the Texas Rangers became Venezuela’s all-time hits leader on June 25 against the Arizona D’Backs with his career hit 2,678. He surpass hall of famer Luis Aparicio.
  • Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees on June 28against the New York Mets became the only second pitcher ever to break the 500 save mark. In that game he also hit his first career RBI. Rivera trails Trevor Hoffman in the majors career saves list.
  • Jonathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants tossed his first career complete game in the majors and best was a no-hitter July 10against the San Diego Padres.
  • Johan Santana of the New York Mets became Venezuela’s all-time winning pitcher on July 11 against the Cincinnati Reds. Santana finished the season with career 122 victories. Freddy Garcia is second in Venezuela’s victories list with 121.
  • Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers pinch hit his 21st career grand slam on July 22 against the Cincinnati Reds, placing him second behind Lou Gehrig major league grand slam career record 23.
  • Ramon Castro of the Chicago White Sox joined the Puerto Rican catcher fraternity (Eliseo “Ellie” Rodriguez, Javier Lopez, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Geovany Soto) that had caught a no-hitter in their careers in the majors. Castro was behind the plate for Mark Buehrle when he tossed his perfect game July 23 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Francisco Rodriguez of the New York Mets became Venezuela’s all-time leader on September 6 against the Chicago Cubs with career save 238 surpassing Ugueth Urbina career 237 saves.
  • Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees drives an American League record seven RBIs in an inning on a three-run homer and a grand slam on the last game of the regular season October 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez feat secured his 12th consecutive season of 30 homers and 100 RBIs, tying Jimmie Foxx’s major-league record (1929-1940). Rodriguez’s 13th season of 30/100 is a record.
  • Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins became only the fourth National League shortstop to win a batting title. Ramirez finished the season with .342.


Latinos: Agentes Libres para el 2010 en las Grandes Ligas

La campaña 2009 esta en su casi cierre de calendario y la acción esta que arde en ruta a las series post-temporada.


A estas fechas que escribimos esta columna solo faltan por definir los comodines de ambos circuitos y ver quien en la Liga Americana entre los Tigres de Detroit y Mellizos de Minnesota se llevará el banderín de la División Central.


En cuanto a nuestros latinos volvemos a reiterar a Albert Pujols para Jugador Más Valioso en la Liga Nacional.


Por otro lado, en el circuito americano deben estar en la pelea Miguel Cabrera y Kendry Morales para Más Valioso; Felix Hernández para el Premio Cy Young y ojo con Elvis Andrus para Novato del Año.


Mientras unos equipos estan concentrados en los “playoffs” una gran mayoria de las organizaciones ya están planeando para el 2010. Así mismo están muchos peloteros ponderando cual será su futuro en las Mayores.


Como es un rito anual las listas de los posibles agentes libres ha sido ya a conocer. Quienes regresaran con sus equipos esta por verse como al igual quienes cambiaran de franela.


En el listado que incluimos aquellos que tienen un asterisco (*) tienen una opción de sus conjuntos para ser re-firmados para la temporada 2010.


Aquí esta la lista preliminar de los latinoamericanos elegibles para el 2010 como agentes libres.

Primera Base
Carlos Delgado  

Segunda Base
Ron Belliard
Omar Infante
Felipe López
Placido Polanco

Campo Corto
Orlando Cabrera
Alex González *
Marco Scutaro
Miguel Tejada
Omar Vizquel

Tercera Base
Adrian Beltré
Pedro Féliz *
Melvin Mora *

Rod Barajas
Henry Blanco
Ramón Castro
Ramón Hernández *
Victor Martínez *
Bengie Molina
José Molina
Miguel Olivo *
Iván Rodríguez
Yorvit Torrealba *

Bobby Abreu
Endy Chavez
Vladimir Guerrero
Andruw Jones
Magglio Ordoñez *
Manny Ramírez *
Fernando Tatis

Miguel Batista
Daniel Cabrera
Bartolo Colon
Jose Contreras
Kelvim Escobar
Vicente Padilla *

Odalis Perez

Joel Piñeiro
Sidney Ponson

Danys Baez
Joaquin Benoit
Rafael Betancourt *
Kiko Calero
Octavio Dotel

Guillermo Mota

Fernando Rodney
Duaner Sánchez
Rafael Soriano
José Valverde
Luis Vizcaino *

Pudge Rodriguez Deserves One More Year

Ivan Rodriguez.jpgTen years ago it was a dream season for Iván Rodríguez.


1999 will never be erased from his memory.


His team, the Texas Rangers, won the American League West Division pennant, while individually, he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award.


Sadly, the Rangers were swept by the New York Yankees in the league Division Series for a second straight year and eliminated for the third time in four seasons.


Texas lost nine consecutive postseason games, all versus New York in Division Series play. In fact, the only time they beat the Bronx Bombers was in Game One of the 1996 Division Series at Yankee Stadium.


Since then, the Rangers have never made another postseason run. If they can catch up to the Boston Red Sox in the next three weeks for the American League wild card, it could be not only their comeback year, but also a chance to finally play in the Fall Classic.


If that happens, Manager Ron Washington has publicly stated that “Pudge” Rodriguez has been one of the key players in the team’s resurgence.


Rodriguez arrived in his Rangers cradle back in mid-August via trade from the Houston Astros. Let’s not forget Rodriguez started his Hall of Fame-bound career in a Rangers uniform, from 1991 to 2002.


At the beginning, many thought that his return was simply one in which a player returns to his old team for a farewell tour.


Not Rodríguez.


His desire and big ego won him back the everyday catcher position. His batting so far has been hot, with sparks very similar to the ones that gave inspiration to the World Champion Florida Marlins back in 2003.


On Sept. 28, we will know the fate of the Rangers–and the same for Ivan Rodriguez.

No matter what, do not expect any retirement announcement. “The way I feel and the shape that I am in, I know I’m going to play for years and years,” Rodriguez said.


Even though his long resume includes 14 All-Star selections, 13 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger and MVP awards, he is not planning to give up yet.


By the way, don’t forget that he is the catcher with the most games played in Major League Baseball history.


However, he is still pursuing one more record: 3,000 hits.


Since he was a kid, as most Puerto Rican players, one of his heroes was Roberto Clemente. Among friends, Rodríguez has mentioned to truly honor Clemente, he would like to share the limelight with him in Cooperstown.


While it is well known that the present finances of the Texas Rangers are very delicate, Rodríguez has said he wants to to the team–that remains to be seen.


No matter what happens, there should be no doubt that Rodríguez deserves to be signed by a team for his 20th career season. His strong leadership and still-average hitting deserves the chance.

The 37-year-old catcher is not ready to quit just yet.

Baseball’s Best Latino Players By Number

clemente.jpgSince 1929 when the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians were the first major league clubs to wear uniform numbers, players have been marked forever by their jersey numbers.

In Yankee Stadium at Monument Park you can see all the famous numbers that have been immortalize by such names as Billy Martin, Babe Ruth, JoeDiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson.

The most famous no. 8 ever in Baltimore Orioles history was Cal Ripken. In Boston the most notable no. 9 ever was Ted Williams. No fan in Philly have forgotten that no. 20 was property of Mike Schmidt.

In Pittsburgh never has been forgotten the no. 8 Willie Stargell and number 21 Roberto Clemente.

Every franchise has its own history. Every fan is loyal to their favorite player’s number. When I pitched in the little leagues I was no. 30 in honor of Nolan Ryan. When my pitching young days were over my jersey number was no. 8 in honor of Dickie Thon.

This is my list of numbers that have been immortalize by latinos in Major League Baseball history:

0-Rey Ordoñez
1-Luis Castillo
2-Hanley Ramírez
3-Alex Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners-Texas Rangers))
5-Albert Pujols
6-Tony Oliva
7-Ivan Rodríguez
8-Dickie Thon
9-Minnie Miñoso
10-Miguel Tejada
11-Luis Aparicio, Edgar Martinez, George Bell
12-Roberto Alomar
13-Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees), Dave Concepcion, Omar Vizquel
14-Andres Galarraga
15-Carlos Beltran
18-Moises Alou, Omar Moreno
19-Juan Gonzalez, Bert Campaneris
20- Jorge Posada
21-Roberto Clemente, Sammy Sosa, Ruben Sierra, Carlos Delgado (New York Mets)
24-Tany Perez, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera
25-Jose Cruz, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado (Toronto Blue Jays)
27-Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero
29-Rod Carew
30-Orlando Cepeda, Dennis Martinez, Magglio Ordoñez
34-David Ortiz, Fernando Valenzuela
35-Mike Cuellar
40-Bartolo Colón
41-Victor Martínez
42-Mariano Rivera
45-Pedro Martínez, Carlos Lee. John Candelaria
46-Tony Armas Sr.
51-Bernie Williams
53-Bobby Abreu
55-Fausto Carmona
57-Francisco Rodriguez
61-Livan Hernández
63-Rafael Betancourt
74-Ugueth Urbina

MLB’ Best Latino Players Last 20 Seasons

Ivan Rodriguez.jpgESPN is celebrating 20 years of covering Major League Baseball and the network asked fans to vote for their all-time team of the last 20 seasons.

At this moment, fans are being asked to pick the winners for each position.

Not surprisingly, winning names in this national poll have been Edgar Martinez as the top DH, Albert Pujols top first baseman, Ivan Rodriguez as top catcher, and Mariano Rivera as the top closer in the last 20 years.

All players from Latin America.

For the last 23 years I have been covering the Major League Baseball beat of the Puerto Rican and Latin American players, and over that time I have seen a bunch of great players.

I’ve also seen how appealing they are to their fans. I have seen how hall-of-famers Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Tany Perez, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, and Juan Marichal are perceived as never-gone heroes in the respective towns they played in in their hey-days.

Nowadays players like Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Manny Ramirez, Johan Santana and many others are closely watched and being regarded as the No. 1 players of their respective franchises.

Quite different to ESPN’ SportsNation Poll, I will share whom I believe are the best Latino players the last 20 years. Most possibly readers will have have a different opinion, but this is my own Latino All-Star team.

Catchers-Santos Alomar Jr., Javier López, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Benito Santiago

First Base-Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Andrés Galarraga, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols

Second Base-Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Julio Franco

Third Base-Vinny Castilla, Mike Lowell, Alex Rodríguez

Shortstop-Hanley Ramirez, José Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel

Outfielders-Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltran, José Canseco, Juan González, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordoñez, Sammy Sosa, Bernie Williams

Pitchers-Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana

Closers-Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez

Designated Hitter-Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz

Ivan Rodriguez: El Papá de los Receptores Grandes Ligas

En estos días que tanto se esta escribiendo y hablando de Iván Rodríguez es un buen momento para tomar nota de los mejores receptores en el gran circo. Muchos se preguntarán y por qué en este instante. Muy simple.  Es en estos días, el “Pudge” una vez más demostró para la historia, porqué es el hombre considerado como el mejor receptor de las Grandes Ligas.

El borícua, que en esta campaña juega para los Astros de Houston, se convirtió este miércoles en el receptor con más partidos jugados (2,227) entre los hombres que trabajan detrás del plato.

La marca de 2,226 estaba en posesión de Carlton “Pudge” Fisk que en su carrera jugó con Medias Rojas de Boston y Medias Blancas de Chicago. De pura coincidencia o cosas del destino, Rodríguez empató y rompió la marca ante los Rangers de Texas donde inició su carrera peloteril a los 19 años de edad. Y atrás en el calendario, el día de su debut el 20 de Junio de 1991, el hombre que estaba de receptor  del equipo contrario era el propio Fisk en aquel entonces en la camisa de los Patiblancos.

Para Rodríguez, todo el asunto de sobrepasar la marca de partidos jugados fue tomado con humildad. “Uno no juega para nuevos récords; ese es el resultado de que el trabajo se está haciendo excelente. Mi disciplina y respeto hacia el béisbol siempre estarán ahí. Sé que vendrán otros que seguirán nuestro camino”, dijo el receptor.

Y en verdad el nacido de Vega Baja puede ser humilde en todo este asunto. La súper marca de juegos participados es una más de 12 que ostenta como receptor en las Grandes Ligas y al paso que va puede que rompa varias más antes de que finalice la presente temporada.

Ya sea que juegue o no en la campaña de 2010, Rodríguez, con su más reciente hazaña, se acercó un paso más a su entrada al Salón de la Fama en Cooperstown.

Y no se vaya a equivocar que el paso que lleva durante este año con los Astros, su defensa se considera poco a poco para obtener otro codiciado premio del Guante de Oro. Rodríguez ostenta actualmente la marca de 13 Guantes de Oro ganados como receptor.
Y después del “Pudge” ¿quienes en la actualidad son los mejores receptores defensivos  en las Mayores? Para orgullo de la Isla del Encanto, siguiendo los pasos de Rodríguez, se menciona al joven Yadier Molina de los Cardenales de San Luís. Otro que ha puesto el nombre en alto como receptor para Borinquen lo es su hermano mayor Bengie Molina. Entre ambos hermanos, hay tres Guantes de Oro.

Todo parece indicar que en Puerto Rico los aficionados siguen de cerca los pasos de Geovany Soto y Omir Santos. De Venezuela puede que sea Ramón Hernández a pesar que se acerca el final de su carrera. Los otros dos venezolanos que dicho sea de paso son más jóvenes, son Víctor Martínez y Dioner Navarro. Por cierto, a Navarro muchos lo llaman en Tampa Bay  el Gordito Pequeño o  “The Little Pudge”. También ponga en la mira de su radar a los receptores de la tierra del merengue, Miguel Olivo y Ronny Paulino.

Y como un extra, sí la temporada terminará para estas fechas, además de Iván Rodríguez sería mi selección para el Guante de Oro como receptor en la Liga Nacional. Al momento, estos otros latinos deben ser merecedores también:

Liga Nacional

1B Albert Pujols, San Luís
3B Pedro Feliz, Filadelfia
OF Carlos Beltrán, Mets de Nueva York

Liga Americana

1B Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay
2B Robinson Canó, Yankees de Nueva York
SS Marco Scutaro, Toronto
3B Mike Lowell, Boston
OF Alexis Ríos, Toronto
OF Juan Rivera, Angelinos de Los Ángeles

Ivan Rodriguez: El Receptor Mas Completo En La Historia


Cuando escribo de Iván Rodríguez mi memoria va bien atrás en el calendario al año 1988. Iván, llamado el gordito de las Parcelas Amadeo de Vega Baja, habia sido visto por escuchas de los Yankees de Nueva York pero no salieron convencidos de sus habilidades. El joven nacido en Manatí jugaba la receptoria y tambien lanzaba pero fue jugando para la organización juvenil de los Raiders el escucha Luis Rosa le recomendó que sí continuaba en el deporte del guante y el bate fuese un receptor a tiempo completo y así fue firmado por los Rangers de Texas. El resto es historia.

De un jovenzuelo que hacia maravillas detras del plato en los diamantes de la Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente tiempo casi inmediatamente despues, tres años exactamente en 1991, lo estabamos viendo debutar y jugar en el antiguo Arlington Stadium. Poco a poco con solo 19 años de edad el hoy llamado por muchos por su apodo “Pudge” era comparado con los mejores receptores boricuas del momento en el gran circo que eran Benito Santiago y Santos Alomar, hijo.

Aunque no fue grandemente considerado por los escritores del beisbol a Novato del Año por solo haber participado en 88 partidos,esa temporada de debutante, las publicaciones Baseball America y Baseball Digest y la compañia Topps lo reconocieron en sus Equipo Todo-Estrellas Novatos del Año.

Bien recuerdo que en una entrevista en 1993 el mismo gran Nolan Ryan en su ultimo año en su carrera nos dejó saber que era de los mejores receptores que el habia tenido en su bateria en su carrera. Y en aquel momento solo estaba en el borde de los 21 años de edad.

Hoy 19 temporadas más tarde, Rodríguez es sin duda alguna el receptor considerado más completo en la historia. Titulo que hasta los grandes Johnny Bench y Carlton Fisk le han concedido al nacido en la Isla del Encanto por sus números ofensivos y defensivos y proezas detras del plato.

Cuando sea su gran día de ser electo al Salón de la Fama no debe haber duda que su placa será impresa con la gorra de los Rangers de Texas. No solo fue donde arrancó en la gran carpa sino también donde su leyenda comenzó entre los grandes en las mayores.

Fue en el uniforme de los Rancheros que obtuvo 10 de sus 13 Guantes de Oro, ganó seis de sus siete Premios Bate de Plata y en esa camiseta donde fue seleccionado a 10 de sus 14 veces al Juego de las Estrellas. Y a esto no estamos incluyendo la larga lista de honores y reconocimientos.

Su más grande reconocimiento finalmente fue en 1999 al ser honrado como el Jugador Más Valioso de la Liga Americana. Bien recuerdo que en Puerto Rico en cierta forma lo comparaban con Roberto Clemente que despues de tantos años de grandes actuaciones con los Piratas de Pittsburgh fue finalmente reconocido en 1966 como Jugador Mas Valioso de la Liga Nacional.

Fue realmente ese 1999 un año de ensueño. Esa temporada se convirtió entre muchas hazañas el primer receptor en la historia en conectar sobre 30 cuadrangulares,100 carreras anotadas,y 100 carreras impulsadas en una temporada. Tambien seria el primer receptor en la historia en conectar sobre 20 bambinazos y a la vez estafarse sobre 20 almohadillas en una campaña. La revista Baseball Digest tambien lo reconoció como su Jugador del Año en las Grandes Ligas.

Por las siguientes tres temporadas todo lo hizo bien en Texas pero al final de la temporada 2002 decidió tomar nuevos rumbos como agente libre.

En Enero del 2003 sorprendió al mundo al firmar con los Marlins de Florida. En verdad sorpresa fue la palabra mas utilizada el dia que estampó su firma con los floridianos quienes tambien sus grandes oficiales estaban fascinados de que el “Pudge” aceptará el reto de manejar en aquel entonces la mejor y mas joven rotacion de abridores en la gran carpa. Hasta ambas partes pronosticaron que esa campaña le iban a dar a su fanaticada “una gran sorpesa”. Y así fue.

Podemos recordar que entre muchas conectó de jonrón en su primer partido como Marlin pero fue su liderato lo que nadie olvida. Fue el tomar las riendas del conjunto en la banca y llevar a su conjunto hasta la Serie Mundial.

Fue su bate y su trocha en el tercer y final partido que guió a los Marlins vencer a los Gigantes de Felipe Alou en las Series Divisionales. Fue su madero el que tronó frente a los Cachorros de Chicago y hasta le ganó ser el Jugador Más Valioso de la Serie de Campeonato de la Liga Nacional. Y despues manejar a los entre otros Josh Beckett, Brad Penny y Dontrelle Willis a ganar el campeonato mundial frente a los Yankees de Nueva York.

En Detroit no podemos le fue del todo mal en cuatro campañas. Llegó en el uniforme de los Tigres a su segundo Clásico de Octubre pero en tal los Cardenales de San Luis fueron mejores. Pero fue en el 2008 que las cosas no se le pusieron del todo bien al Dirigente Jim Leyland decidir que le iba a dar más dias de descanso para darle oportunidad al joven Brandon Inge.

La relación entre Rodriguez y Leyland comenzaron a no ser las mejores y el 30 de Julio de ese año fue canjeado a los Yankees de Nueva York. Con los Bombarderos del Bronx estuvo detras del plato el resto de la campaña en sustitución del lesionado Jorge Posada pero al final fue dejado en libertad.

Este pasado Marzo durante el Clasico Mundial de Beisbol practicamente no lo dejamos tranquilo. Aunque el tampoco lo estaba ya que se acercaba la temporada y nadie le habia ofrecido trabajo. Hasta que finalmente antes del para olvidar partido entre Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos tuve la suerte que uno de sus agentes me confirmó en las gradas del hoy llamado Landshark Stadium en Miami que era un Astro.

Con Houston, Rodriguez esta a punto de establecer una marca más de muchas que ya tiene en los libros. El ser el receptor con más juegos participados en la historia del beisbol organizado y quebrantar la marca que era ostentanda por tantos años por Carlton Fisk.

Dos coincidencias pasarán cuando esto ocurra. Una, Fisk era el hombre detras del plato para los Medias Blancas de Chicago el dia que Rodriguez debutó en las Mayores. Y dos, romperá la marca muy probablemente ante su primer conjunto en su carrera los Rangers de Texas en acción de juegos interliga.

Muchos se preguntas y despues qué ? Cada uno tiene su opinión, La mia es que mientras pueda seguir jugando lo hará. Y muy bien, seguro que sí. Y su proxima marca que tiene en vista y es un secreto que muchos le sabemos en alta tratar de llegar a la marca de 3,000 hits. Hoy dia anda por los encima de los 2,640 indiscutibles.

Este articulo es bastante largo para también añadir todas las marcas que ha establecido en las Grandes Ligas. Sín duda en conclusión, Iván Rodríguez es el receptor más completo en toda la historia.

Yadier and Bengie Molina: The Forgotten Gold Glovers


When thinking about Puerto Rican catchers, it first comes to mind such names as future hall-of-famer Iván Rodriguez, veteran Yankee Jorge Posada and the new wave kids Geovany Soto and Omir Santos. Often forgotten and they shouldn’t be there are Bayamon’  Molina brothers. Hopefully one month from now Yadier and Bengie will receive the attention they deserve.

“We all are quiet. We come to the ballpark to do our work and with God blessing we do the best job we can,” Yadier said at Landshark Stadium in Miami.

The Molina brothers younger to older Yadier (Cardinals), José (Yankees) and Bengie (Giants) they all debuted in the same season in 2004. They are the only trio of brothers  in Major League history to win World Series ring. However, no matter what, there are often left out of the favourite boricuas fan list.

That probably could change in few weeks as both the junior and the senior can be select it to their first All-Star Game in their careers.

“Yadier is like the kid everybody loves in the neighborhood,” St.Louis’ Manager Tony LaRussa said. “He deserves it same as his brother (Bengie).”

At this moment, Yadier, 26, is the leading vote-getter among National League catchers for the upcoming All-Star Game. And he is very happy about it moreover this year Summer Classic is at his Redbird nest at Busch Stadium in St. Louis July 14.

“It means a lot to me. A lot of people doubted I could do it,” Yadier said. “I’m proud of what I have done so far. It feels very good.”

Of course, he should feel good. Defensively he is probing once more he was not just lucky last season when he won his fisrt Gold Glove. At present, Yadier leads all Major League catchers in throwing percentage (41.8) and leads the majors in pick-offs since 2005. He admitted is slumping offensively a bit but he knows he can do better as similar to last year career-best .304.

In the other side of the country, all west, Bengie, 34,  is finally getting the attention he deserves. Not only because he is only 1 of  3 active catchers —Pudge Rodriguez (13) and Brad Ausmus (3)– to have won multiple Gold Gloves (American League 2002 and 2003) or owns as a catcher a career .994 fielding percentage. As a backstopper, he is second in the majors in putouts and have logged fourth-most innings played behind the plate. Also, he can hit too. He leads his San Francisco uniform in homers and RBI since 2007 and he is the leader again in both departments in 2009 (9 HR-37 RBI).

“(Pitcher) Matt McCain should be our All-Star this year. If I’m select it then it will be a great honor.” Bengie said. “Of course, that will be great to play in the same All-Star Game with my brother”.

Last Puerto-Rican duo of brothers to play in All-Star Games together were Roberto And Sandy Alomar Jr. in the 90’s.

Even though he is satisfied with the Giants—were he have been its franchise MVP the last two seasons— he stated he sometimes feels unrecognized as in his days with the Anaheim Angels. However, he said that given the right oppportunity he wants to stay in the Bay Area with San Francisco and be the starting catcher for the next two or three years.

Bengie is a free agent at the end of the season but he does not want to discuss with the Giants management a return to the team and any kind of deal anytime after the All-Star break.

On José, the other forgotten, is at the moment in the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa in a rehablitation assignment (strained left quadriceps muscle).

José, 33, went on the disabled list last May 10. No word from the Yankees management how soon he will called up.

This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary

Ivan Rodriguez: Closer To Cooperstown

Last March during the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Miami we were fill the blank with the proper adjective to have the lead for The Puerto Rico Daily Sun that Iván Rodríguez was going to be playing his 19th season in the Majors with the Houston Astros.

Four months in the calendar have gone by and ‘Pudge’ is in the news again. The Vega Baja native is set for history again. He will become the all-time major league leader in games caught passing Carlton Fisk 2,226 behind the plate. Coincidentally, Fisk was the opposing catcher when Rodriguez made his debut on June 20, 1991.

Moreover, in interleague play he is in line to break the record against his original team, the Texas Rangers, June 16-18.

If any one have forgotten, Rodriguez, 37, played 12 seasons with the Rangers. It was in Arlington were he established his actual credentials. In Texas he was a 10-time All Star; won 10 out of his 13 Gold Gloves; 6 of 7 Silver Slugger awards; the 1999 American League MVP and many, many other honors and recognitions.

In 2003 he added to his resume something that he could not enjoy as a Ranger. As a Florida Marlins he have a dream season (.297, 16 HR , 85 RBI) and led his young club to the World Series. He was the 2003 National League Championship Series MVP against the Cubs and one of the leaders in the win against the Yankees.

What’s next ?

“I still can play this game on an every day basis,” Rodriguez said. “I just look forward to have a great year and make this ballclub (Astros) in the playoffs. That’s going to be my goal”.

At this moment the Astros are off in the race in their Central Division but in the other hand Rodriguez (.259, 5HR, 24 RBI) is showing good shape to keep playing in the Majors.

No matter he have surpassed Fisk and Johnny Bench in numbers and recognition, ‘Pudge’ have been clear that with his discipline, hard and strong ethic work if he can go on he will. And is no secret he’s next goal is try to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.

Time will tell if he will achieve it or not. However, no matter what, Rodriguez at this moment is enjoying the big moment and no doubt once he retires he will be bound to Cooperstown.

This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary

Boricua: Where Are You ?

Only few days are left to finally listen the cry of Playball ! in most major league parks. No more spring training exhibition games.

Starting April 5th it is the real thing. Under the lights, the Philadelphia Phillies will open officially the 2009 season on national TV against the Atlanta Braves. For many, many years truthfully not many care about the Brotherly Love city Phils. This season Charlie Manuel’s troop is a must watch.

The Phillies will try to be the first defending champs this decade to win back to back titles. Since 00′, Major League Baseball champions includes the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, White Sox, Cardinals and twice the Red Sox. In paper, it looks the Phillies have all the tools to return to the World Series and fulfill the feast last accomplished by the 1998-2000 Bronx Bombers.

In Puerto Rico, I wonder how many really care about the Phillies and for the whole purpose the baseball upcoming season. Back at the turn of the century the list of boricuas in the Majors use to be around 50 every summer. Most were big names to their franchises and well-known for every baseball fan. Every All-Star Game was fully loaded with puertorriqueños, same as post-season time.

For the last, around two-three years, it have been follow closely the dwindling decrease of islanders in the big show.

This upcoming season the only boricuas projected to be on a regular basis in a lineup are in the American League: Mike Lowell (Red Sox), Jorge Posada, (Yankees), Mike Aviles and David de Jesus (Royals) and Alexis Rios (Blue Jays). In the National League: Felipe Lopez (D’Backs), Geovany Soto (Cubs), Ivan Rodriguez (Astros), Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado (Mets) and the brothers Molina Bengie (Giants) and Yadier (Cardinals).

Probable starters in a regular rotation this upcoming season are Javier Vazquez (Braves) and Joel Piñeiro (Cardinals). Let’s not forget new puertorrican Ian Snell (Pirates) who was nationalized with his two starts in the last World Baseball Classic. By the way, not to make the matters worse, but not even 20 more names are present in spring camps competing for a bench spot, utility role or pitching job to make in the season’s opener 25-man rosters.

The glory days are gone? Good question. No doubt, we can not take anything from the current crop. Every year there is at least one islander that excels and make all Puerto Rico proud.

Last season the man was Geovany Soto. The young catcher was the National League Rookie of the Year and selected by all major national media outlets for the same honor. Also, let not forget the excellent season of National league Gold Glovers Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina.

Hooray for the honor. However, circa 1998 it would have taken at least two more paragraphs to write the accolades of our Puerto Rican stars. That it would have included such names as Juan Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra, Carlos Baerga, Edgar Martinez, Roberto and Sandy Alomar. It was the hey-days of Pudge Rodriguez with Texas and Carlos Delgado with Toronto. Let’s not forget that time around Carlos Beltran was just coming up in 1999 as American League Rookie of the Year. Mike Lowell was just a rookie making a name for himself with the Florida Marlins.

There is a lot of talk about the different reasons with the continuing decrease of major league caliber local talent. And for God sake let’s not start to compare with the continuous rising baseball talent from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Let be honest, Puerto Rico still is baseball country. It was seen the passion and colors in the last World Baseball Classic. True a bad ninth inning against the USA derailed a final-four appearance dream in the world tourney. However no dream should be broken in the future.

The future is now that players have to arise again. Yes, we are very proud of the legacy of Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda and hopefully future hall of famers Robbie Alomar and Edgar Martinez. However, again, we need that boom of baseball players to build up again and fill up the majors. Meanwhile, do care and enjoy the upcoming season and root for your favorite team and favorite puertorrican player.

This column was also published as a Special For The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / Commentary Column


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