Pudge proud of son on Draft Day
Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez was a proud father Tuesday afternoon, for he learned that his son, outfielder Dereck Rodriguez, was drafted by the Twins in the sixth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Ivan, affectionately known as Pudge, acknowledged he was choked up when he heard the good news about his son.
“Very proud for him,” Ivan said. “He is a good kid. That was his dream when I start putting the glove and bat in his hands. … He told me that he wanted to be here one day. It’s a big day for him, a big day for me. Now he is getting ready to prepare, go to Spring Training and start working hard.”
When he was a little kid, Dereck tried to be a catcher like his father, but the younger Rodriguez often had problems with his legs while working behind the plate.
“He caught for a little while, but he came to me and told me that catching was too hard for him,” Ivan said. “When he started catching, his joints and knees started hurting him because he was growing. So he was catching, bending down and all that. He was always having knee pains.”
One day, Dereck started shagging fly balls in the outfield and decided he wanted to become a Major League outfielder. Ivan credits Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter and former Tigers coach Andy Van Slyke for teaching his son how to play the outfield the right way. Ivan considers his son a quality outfielder.
“He is going to be a good player,” Ivan said. “He needs to do some things on his swing, but he has a pretty good arm, is a good outfielder, runs very well. He has the perfect size. He is almost 6-3. When he puts some weight on, he is going to be good. That’s what Spring Training is all about — just get used to the everyday grind. But he has all the tools.”