I remember back to 1991 when the Rangers recalled then 19 year old Ivan Rodriguez to the big leagues. Pudge was an obvious phenom brought to the big leagues for his glovework. He gunned down would-be basestealers from his knees and picked off runners at first. Anything he did with the bat was a bonus.
Well, 19 years and over 2700 hits later Pudge is still plugging along. The Washington Nationals signed Rodriguez to tutor their young catchers and help guide a young pitching staff. Anything he gives them with the bat is a bonus. And quite a bonus it is. The now 38 yo Pudge is hitting .365 through his first 24 games as a National. The upstart Nats are a surprising 18-14 and just 1.5 games behind the defending NL Chmp Phillies in the NL East.
In an interesting contrast the Cubs recalled 20 year old shortstop Starlin Castro from AA on Friday. They sang the same tune as the Rangers 19 years ago, stating that Castro was brought up to solidify the defense and anything he does with the bat is a bonus. Well, the kid started off with a bang; hitting a 3-run bomb in his first at bat and a 3-run triple later in the same game. Tonight, the Cubs lost 4-2 to Florida in Castro’s first game at Wrigley. The star-crossed Starlin made 3 errors, and another bad throw that could’ve been an error, leading directly to Marlins’ runs. Here’s hoping it was just a case of the jitters and Castro can enjoy the same type of staying power as future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez.