The Running of the Rays Sean Rodriguez

By David Hill

Aug 18, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Sean Rodriguez (1) is tagged out by Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Maicer Izturis (3) during the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Rodriguez is the type of player that teams enjoy having on their roster, capable of playing multiple positions a few times a week to rest a starter. For the Rays, Rodriguez has appeared at first, second, short, and left and right field. In a game where twelve to thirteen man bullpens are the norm, that type of versatility can be extremely valuable. Having the ability to occasionally hit for power and decent speed only helps to increase that value.

Yet, it is ability to run that has been problematic. Rodriguez has entered two of the last four games as a pinch runner, with virtually nothing to show for it. In fact, his baserunning last night may have cost the Rays last night’s ballgame, as he was picked off of second one batter before Luke Scott drilled a double to left center. That run would have given the Rays the lead, and with only one out in the inning and Carter Capps struggling to throw strikes, the Rays may have been able to get another run on the board.

Rodriguez has also had his issues on the basepaths this season. Despite having an excellent success rate stealing bases in his career, being successful on 33 of 47 attempts, Rodriguez only has one steal this season, and has been caught three times. He has also been picked off twice this season. On a team with options such as Sam Fuld and with an expanded roster, Rodriguez may not be the first option to consider when looking to run for someone late in a game.

Theoretically, the concept of Rodriguez running for players such as James Loney makes sense. Not only is Rodriguez an upgrade in speed, but he can slide right in defensively and the Rays do not have to use a second player. Yet, that idea, while it has worked out well in the past, has not had the same level of success this season.

Sean Rodriguez is certainly valuable to the Rays. However, at a time when the Rays need every run they can get, he may not be the best option to pinch run.