Eddy Rodriguez

Yankees release re-sign C Eddy Rodriguez

In the latest round of Baseball America's minor-league transactions, for the period of October 24-30, Matt Eddy reports that the New York Yankees have released first baseman Kyle Roller and re-signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who turns 30 on December 1, was signed last winter as a minor-league free agent and split the season between Double-A and Triple-A. The veteran hit just .170 with three homers and 20 RBI in 57 games, but was noted for his work with top prospect Gary Sanchez - and with Sanchez also likely ticketed for the minors to start 2016, Rodriguez may have been brought back to continue that mentorship with the young backstop.

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For the Yankees’ Other Rodriguez, Little Fanfare but Big Adventures

DUNEDIN, Fla. — When the Toronto Blue Jays’ public-address announcer boomed the arrival into the batter’s box of a Yankees player named Rodriguez on Saturday, there was neither a boo nor a cheer, nor even a single pair of clapping hands from among the 5,511 fans at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Just silence.

This Rodriguez, after all, was the other Rodriguez in Yankees camp: Eddy Rodriguez, a 29-year-old journeyman catcher. Not the famous No. 13, Alex Rodriguez, although if you add the two digits on the back of Eddy Rodriguez’s pinstriped jersey, they equal 13. He wears No. 67, a sure sign that he is a nonroster invitee, though one whose journey, in his telling, is worthy of an ovation.

On a balmy summer day, Aug. 31, 1993, Rodriguez, then age 7, gathered with his family in El Santo, a speck of land on the northern part of Cuba protected by several barrier keys. The family often went there to fish. What young Eddy did not realize was that his father, Edilio, had been burying drums of diesel fuel in the sand at El Santo.

As the sun set, Rodriguez; his parents; his 10-year-old sister, Yanisbet; and his 16-year-old cousin, Carlos, boarded a 17-foot wooden boat, left everything behind and ventured into the Straits of Florida for what they hoped would be an uneventful 90-mile journey to the United States.

“We had more than most other Cubans,” Rodriguez said, explaining that the family had land, livestock and produce. “We had an abundance, and my father would share what we had with others. He also built a hydroelectric power plant for the neighborhood so we could have electricity, because the government electricity was always going out.

“We had a lot compared to others, but what we didn’t have was a future. I think a big part of why my parents risked everything was for me, so I could have a future.”
Over the next four days, they faced an open sea, a violent storm and sharks.

The storm, with 20-foot waves, happened on them almost immediately, Rodriguez said. His mother, Ylya, kept feeding the children sleeping pills, trying to shield them from as much terror as possible, but Eddy was awake long enough to see the pounding waves and water leaking into the vessel.

“My cousin was throwing up and trying to hand-pump water out of the boat at the same time,” Rodriguez said. “We weren’t making any progress. We’d get to the crest of a wave and then roll straight back, burning fuel but not going anywhere.”

With her daughter interpreting from their home in Colorado Springs, Ylya recently told how a flying piece of wood opened a gash on her head, and how they compressed the wound with towels, frantic not to allow her blood to mingle with the water they were pumping out of the boat, for fear it would attract sharks.
By Day 3, Rodriguez said, the storm continued to rage, and the food and fuel were nearly exhausted.

The castaways huddled in the middle of the boat and prayed as Ylya sat between her husband’s legs and draped her arms around the children.
Everything was black — the sea, the sky, and especially their dreams of a new life.

And then, Rodriguez said, a miracle.

“I know people don’t believe it, but I was there,” he said.

To the left and right, the storm raged. “But where we were, straight ahead, it opened up,” he said. “It was like a clear tunnel for us.”

With the little fuel they had left, they motored into calmer waters. Eventually, a freighter en route to Chile, from New York, spotted them. The crew fed them scrambled eggs, bread, apples, cantaloupe, bananas, water and coffee.

The freighter also radioed the United States Coast Guard. Almost five hours later, the Rodriguez family arrived in Miami, where relatives helped them settle into a small apartment.

Rodriguez went from playing baseball with broomsticks and wadded-up medical tape passing as a ball to playing with real equipment. He latched onto a South Florida player with the same surname: Alex Rodriguez.

“I had a plaque of him in my bedroom, when he played for Seattle,” Eddy Rodriguez said. “My friends started calling me E-Rod.

“Later, when I began playing catcher, Pudge Rodriguez became my favorite player,” he added, referring to Ivan Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said he told his mother that one day he would attend the University of Miami, and when he was a high school sophomore, the program sent him a questionnaire.

“When I saw it, I cried,” he said. He eventually played for the Hurricanes before signing with the Cincinnati Reds as a 20th-round draft pick in 2006.

The Yankees are Rodriguez’s fifth organization in 10 years, with his only major league experience coming in 2012, when he had five at-bats with the San Diego Padres, hitting a home run in his first plate appearance. His career minor league batting average is .235.

Last season, he worked as a minor league coach in the Boston Red Sox organization, ready to move into the next phase of his career. But then, in January, while Rodriguez was on his honeymoon in Puerto Rico, the Yankees called and offered him another shot at playing.

“He can catch — we know that,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said.

With Austin Romine out of options and expected to be traded or released, and with John Ryan Murphy expected to be Brian McCann’s backup, Rodriguez will very likely serve as insurance at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which is fine with him.

“I use to stress about what was going to happen,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t anymore.”

Several years ago, while working out at Miami, he met the other Rodriguez on the Yankees’ roster and forged a relationship.

“I’ve reached out to him a lot over the last few years,” Eddy Rodriguez said of Alex. “We’ve hit together, trained together. I think I’m a good catcher, but hitting has always been my Achilles’ heel. This off-season, and this spring, Alex has helped me a lot, simplifying my swing and my approach. He’s always been very, very giving.”

Alex Rodriguez smiled when those words were relayed to him.

“Eddy is a great guy,” he said. “He’s been working hard, improving his swing, asking a lot of questions. The thing about Eddy, when you can catch and throw and call a good game like he does, anything you can do offensively is a bonus.”

For Eddy Rodriguez, everything in life is a bonus.

When he saw his name on the same lineup card with Alex Rodriguez, he took a picture of it with his camera phone and texted it to his buddies with the question, “Is this a typo?”

“You couldn’t script all the things that have happened to me in my life,” he said. “My story is already a success story.”

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New York Yankees sign C Eddy Rodriguez to minor-league deals

The New York Yankees have signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez and outfielder Robert Hernandez to minor-league contracts, according to their transactions page at MLB.com.

Rodriguez, 29, split 2014 between the Rays and Red Sox organizations, hitting .152 with one home run and four RBI in 13 games at the Triple-A level. Originally a 2006 draftee of the Reds, Rodriguez is a career .235 hitter in nine minor league seasons and earned his only major-league experience back in August 2012, going 1-for-5 with a solo home run in a pair of games with the Padres.

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Eddy Rodriguez loses bet, wears FSU gear

C Eddy Rodriguez is a proud University of Miami product, so it was with great pain that he wore a Florida State shirt for drills Monday after losing a bet to 3B coach Tom Foley on the weekend UM-FSU series.

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Eddy Rodriguez acquired by Rays

Catcher Eddy Rodriguez was one of 14 Padres minor leaguers who were granted free agency last November. Today it was reported that he has signed with the Rays, making him the fifth minor league free agent from the Padres organization to sign on with another team.

Corey Brock @FollowThePadres: “Former #Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez (@EddyRodriguezU) has signed with the #Rays. Nice landing spot for a Florida guy and avid fisherman.”

Rodriguez made his major league debut with the Padres on August 2, 2012 after being promoted from Lake Elsinore a day prior as a result of Yasmani Grandal hitting the DL. Facing Johnny Cueto in his first major league at-bat, he knocked the ball out of the park, becoming the third of four Padres catchers ever to hit a home run in his first ML at-bat. He made two starts for San Diego that year before Nick Hundley returned on August 9th, at which time he was optioned to Triple-A Tucson. Less than a month later, he was DFA , but passed through waivers unclaimed. He re-signed as a minor league free agent in 2013 with an invitation to Spring Training and split time between San Antonio and Tucson during the season, but he never made it back to San Diego.

Like Corey Brock said, this seems like a good move for Rodriguez. Wishing him the best of luck and lots of good fishing in Tampa!

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After escaping Cuba as a boy, Eddy Rodriguez living his dream

Eddy Rodriguez does not forget details. He remembers the color of the sea (black) and the size of the swells (20 feet) when he almost perished 19 years and 10 months ago at age 7. He remembers his mother cracking open her head on a storm-tossed fishing boat, his father cleaning up the blood, the family gathering to pray in front of a porcelain saint, La Virgen de la Caridad, The Virgin of Charity.

On the second evening of a journey from Cuba to the U.S. on the Florida Straits, Eddy remembers these words from his father, Edilio: "If we're going to die, we're going to die together."

Eddy's memory might be his greatest gift as a catcher. Without the aid of detailed scouting reports available to major leaguers, Eddy's ability to capture and store hundreds of distinct visuals makes him a minor league jewel. Before his call-up to the San Diego Padres' Triple-A team in Tucson in early July, he distinguished himself in Double-A San Antonio for his ability to recall the pitch each opposing batter struggled to hit against each of his pitchers. He remembered, for example, how each batter made an out the last time he faced a Missions pitcher: ground ball to third, fly ball to center, strike out on a 3-2 breaking ball, away.

"Eddy has all that information stored in his head," says San Antonio Missions manager Rich Dauer, a former infielder with the Baltimore Orioles. "He makes it so pitchers don't have to rely on themselves to get hitters out. He is a student of the game."

Earlier this season, an Arkansas Traveler approached the plate. Runners on second and third. Two outs. Top of the fourth. Keyvius Sampson, a top right-handed prospect, on the mound. Eddy remembered the left-handed batter, Anthony Bemboom, could not hit Sampson's best pitch. So Eddy called for a changeup. Bemboom grounded out to first, Sampson escaped the jam and came away with the victory.

Everyday in the minors is a reminder of the eight days Rodriguez spent last season with the San Diego Padres. A reminder of his first big league at-bat against the team that drafted him: a 2-1 slider from Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto, the ball exploding off his bat, a 416-foot shot over the left-center wall in Great American Ball Park. Two days earlier, Rodriguez was hitting .223 in Class A Lake Elsinore.

What are the odds? It took injuries to two catchers to create an opening in San Diego. It took management to look beyond Rodriguez's advanced age (26) and weak bat (a career .239 average in minor and independent leagues). It took Rodriguez's play-calling and defense to get the promotion over more highly rated prospects.

If he can return to the bigs at age 27, and Dauer believes he will, Rodriguez will underscore the rarity of his journey. Among the 52 Cubans who have defected and played in the Majors (per baseball-reference.com), Eddy may be the only one who cried and begged to go back home.

Edilio and Ylya Rodriguez raised a son and daughter on a farm in rural Cuba. The family lived comfortably off their land and animals: chickens, pigs, lambs. They drank milk from their own cows. They had electricity, running water, a blue Chevy, circa 1956. The farm in Villa Clara stretched as far as young Eddy could see. "I probably didn't set foot on all the land we had," he says.

Edilio often went spearfishing and freediving off the Cuban coast. About once a month, he took the family to a favorite spot, ostensibly, to fish and cook and enjoy the beach. Unknown to Eddy: On each trip to the key, Edilio brought a tank of fuel and buried it in the sand. His plan was to collect enough fuel for a three-day journey to Florida on his 21-foot fishing boat.

On the day of departure, Eddy thought he was going, at last, to a coveted fishing hole. "Every time my dad would go to this one place, he would come back with all these fish," Eddy says. "I would beg him, 'I want to go! I want to go!' But he would always tell me I was too young, it was too dangerous."

The boat left the island at dusk. On board were Edilio and Ylya, Eddy, his sister Yanisbet and a cousin, Carlos. Eddy remembers the sky growing dark. He remembers the excitement giving way to an ominous feeling the next day. The boat had gone out too far. Fatigue settled in. Eddy wanted to go home.
"We're not going back," Edilio said. "We're going to the United States."

Fear and panic gripped the boy. "I want to go back," he cried. "I want to see my abuelita!"

Edilio sailed on through tearful pleas for Eddy's grandmother. Evening descended. A gathering storm approached. Thunder. Wind. Rain. Ylya fell on the rocking boat and struck her forehead on a bench. Edilio ripped a piece of his clothing and applied pressure to the bleeding wound. Then he gathered the family. The Virgin of Charity and other saints were placed on a wooden box in front of the Rodriguezes. "We were praying to God, praying to the Saints, 'Just get us out,'" Eddy says.

The sea turned black. Twenty-foot waves hammered the boat. It nearly capsized. Edilio and Ylya grabbed buckets and threw water back out. The boat, meanwhile, rose high in the swells, only to get thrown back down. "We weren't gaining any ground and we were burning fuel," Eddy says. "So my dad turned the engine off and we just started drifting."

Ylya and Carlos leaned over the vessel and retched. Eddy remembers the color: green. Neither Eddy nor Yanisbet grew seasick because, earlier, Ylva had given them pills, evidently the last two. Nausea did not overwhelm brother and sister. Terror did. And then, to the astonishment of everyone, the storm seemed to divide. Eddy recalls heavy rain and fierce winds on either side of the boat. Virtually no storm down the middle.

"I've had people say that's probably b.s.," Eddy says. "But I don't really care how many people doubt it. I went through it."

Yanisbet, Eddy's older sister by three years: "It was a miracle."

Key West sits 90 miles from Cuba's coastline. The waters are treacherous. A large but unknown number of Cubans have drowned attempting to cross over. Some have succumbed to sharks. Others have been captured by Cuban authorities on the sea and imprisoned, or in some cases, slain.

The death of a 15-year-old Cuban rafter at sea inspired volunteer pilots from the U.S. and other countries to assist rafters. In 1991, Brothers to the Rescue was born. Early on, they spotted hundreds of boaters and alerted the U.S. Coast Guard for rescue efforts.

The Brothers did not spot Eddy's family. Edilio believes the storm kept them grounded. After surviving a monster storm, the Rodriguezes faced another grim reality: No food. Little fuel. A broken compass. Edilio used the stars and sun to navigate.

On the third day, Aug. 31, 1993, Edilio raised a white flag, hoping to attract the attention of a plane or a vessel, though he saw nothing but endless water and sky. As the sun rose, a freighter appeared in the distance. Another prayer answered. "I can still see that boat," Eddy says.

Before notifying the Coast Guard, the rescuers provided the family a feast: scrambled eggs, bread, apples, bananas, cafe' con leche and water. It was then, Yanisbet recalls, that Eddy had a change of heart. "All of a sudden, after three days at sea, he says, 'I don't wanna go back. I wanna stay!' And we all started laughing."

Edilio wept when his feet touched U.S. soil. Eddy did not understand the tears. But he quickly learned the pain that comes with freedom. At school in Miami, some kids called him "rafter." The first time he played organized baseball, a popup hit him in the face. When Eddy said he wanted to play catcher, the coach obliged with a punishing drill.

Eight-year-old Eddy stood against a chain link fence, his catcher gear on. The coach stood 50 feet away with an aluminum bat. Eddy was supposed to block balls smashed at him. The kid took a beating. "I was getting hit and bruised so bad tears were coming down," Eddy says. "My mom was crying, saying, 'Hey, what are you doing to my kid?' But I have to thank that guy for breaking me in the way he did. Because after that, I never had an issue with being scared of the ball."

Through the pain, the kid dared to dream. On one visit to Mark Light Stadium in Coral Gables, home of the University of Miami baseball team, Eddy and his mother climbed to a balcony. "Mom," little Eddy promised, gazing across the field, "I'm going to play here one day."

Seven years later, a piece of mail addressed to Eddy arrived. Enclosed was a questionnaire and a note from a University of Miami coach. "We view you as a potential recruit. ..." it began. Eddy broke down. "How crazy is it," he says, "that something I said as a little 8-year-old would become a reality?"

The Cincinnati Reds drafted Rodriguez out of Miami in the 20th round of the 2006 draft. He hit .201 for Class A Sarasota in 2008. The Reds released him the following spring. Eddy landed in the independent leagues and drifted among rejects, longshots, has-beens. After two years, he pondered retirement. And then, out of nowhere, search and rescue appeared.

The Padres offered Rodriguez a second chance. He played for three minor league clubs in 2011, hitting .246, and started 2012 at Class A California League affiliate Lake Elsinore. He struggled at the plate, but impressed behind it, a 6-foot, 205-pound defensive rock. Still, at 26, he remained an impossible distance from the bigs. But then came the impossible call.

Eddy, you're going to the majors.

He could not speak. He could not comprehend the leap. But the timing and context were providentially perfect. In the third year after his release from the Reds, like his third day on the water, a lifeboat arrived. Fittingly, Rodriguez left a team called, "The Storm," for a big league club with two Cubans: first baseman Yonder Alonso, Eddy's best friend since high school, and Yasmani Grandal, the starting catcher whose pulled oblique muscle made the jump to San Diego possible.

No one could have scripted the next twist: Rodriguez first big league at-bat against the team that drafted and released him. On the mound stood a former teammate in the Reds system, rising star Johnny Cueto. At the plate, stood a rookie with a notoriously weak bat. The 2-1 pitch. The swing. Gone. Rodriguez says he blacked out before the ball touched down.

Alonso greeted him with a bear hug in the dugout, two Cubans with a bond and history no one could make up. They grew up 10 minutes apart in South Florida. They played together in Miami youth leagues, together at Coral Gables High and at the University of Miami. Drafted two years apart by the Reds, they reunited in Cincinnati and celebrated as San Diego teammates.

"After he hit the homer, I didn't know if it was a dream or not," Alonso says. "We were all in shock. He worked so hard to get there. It was like a movie script."

Alonso came to the U.S. on a plane with his father. He was 10. Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez fled Cuba on a speedboat with his mother and sister at 15. Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar arrived on a raft with 35 defectors. He was 21. Every Cuban ballplayer has a story but none quite like Eddy Rodriguez. He didn't want to come. He homered in his first big league at-bat. He remembers faces but not names. He remembers visuals but not always words. "When I see something," he says. "I don't forget it."

Pat Murphy understands. Murphy has coached Rodriguez for less than a month in Triple-A Tucson and recognizes the obvious. The photographic memory is a tool that keeps Rodriguez in the game. "Eddy is a survivor," Murphy says. "He's not blessed with all the physical talent. So he realizes he needs to survive.
And part of surviving is storing up all that information in your mind. His thinking is, 'I've got to have this part of the game down. I've got to understand hitters, how to get them out. That's gotta be my forte.'"

It's been almost one year since that trot around the bases. Eight days with the Padres left Rodriguez with a meager offensive stat line: One hit in five at-bats, a .200 average. He hit. 240 in San Antonio, hit two RBI singles in his first two games in Tucson, plays strong defense and refuses to give up on a return to San Diego. "I'm 1,000 percent confident I'll make it back," he says.

Dauer believes Rodriguez's glove and arm will create another opening. "He can play at the big league level on his catching ability alone," Dauer says.

Edilio does not fish anymore. He does not go near the water. Eddy cannot stay away from it. The ocean breeze. The salt in the air. The tranquility of angling. The sea is a powerful intoxicant, pulling Eddy out, into the deep, where water and sky stretch far and wide into something sacred: a sanctuary of freedom.
His two greatest loves are fishing and baseball. On a perfect day, he does both. Hours before San Diego called, Rodriguez was fishing on a lake in California. Good things happen to him on the water. Good things happen behind the plate. Rodriguez caught a shutout in his second start in San Diego. He got the game ball. He remembers every detail.

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proCane Eddy Rodriguez off to a HOT Start

After two starts, three Padres minor league starting pitchers – Burch Smith, Matt Wisler and Joe Ross -- have yet to allow a run and three others have allowed only one earned run.

But the focus this week is on offense, particularly the hitters at Double-A San Antonio where the team batting average is .301 after 10 games.

Five of the 10 leading hitters in the Texas League after the first 1 ½ weeks of the season are from San Antonio led by former Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez, who is off to a .379 start.

Also in the top five of Texas League hitters are third baseman Jake Blackwood and first baseman Tommy Medica.

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Padres Send Eddy Rodriguez Down

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres trimmed their roster to 45 on Friday when they reassigned three players to Minor League camp.

Right-handed pitchers Daniel Stange and Thad Weber and catcher Eddy Rodriguez joined the rest of the Minor Leaguers in camp. The three weren't on the 40-man roster and didn't have to be optioned.

Rodriguez hit .308 in 13 at-bats over 14 games. He had one home run and knocked in three runs.

The Padres could bring any of the players they've sent to the Minor League side over for Cactus League games in the next week. The team breaks camp Thursday before heading to San Antonio to play two games against the Rangers at the Alamodome.

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Yonder Alonso, Eddy Rodriguez Have Madness For Miami

PEORIA, Ariz. — The alma mater of Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez and first baseman Yonder Alonso has appeared in 23 College World Series, of which they have won four. However, in men’s basketball, the University of Miami is seeking its first NCAA championship, something Rodriguez and Alonso are confident will happen in just a few weeks.

The Hurricanes are the second seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s East Region. They open play on Thursday against the University of the Pacific.

“It’s unbelievable. Normally we’re a baseball and football school and now our basketball team is getting close to maybe achieving that prize of winning the championship,” said Rodriguez, who was the starting catcher for the University of Miami before being drafted in 2006 to the Cincinnati Reds.

Despite Rodriguez’s devotion to his alma mater, he says he won’t be filling out a bracket this year. “I personally don’t [have a bracket]. I know that Yonder does and he’s a big Miami guy too, but if I was doing mine I’d be pulling for the home team all the way throughout.”

Alonso did fill out a bracket, and he’s definitely behind his former team. He picked the Canes to go all the way, predicting an 88-82 win against Gonzaga.
Alonso played baseball at Miami for three seasons, leading the team to the College World Series in 2008 as the No. 1 seed. That year Alonso was drafted seventh overall by the Cincinnati Reds, and was traded to the Padres in 2011.

“They’re getting better and better and finally they put it all together. I’m definitely pulling for them in March Madness,” said Alonso.

Luckily for Rodriguez and Alonso, the Padres have Thursday, the first full day of the NCAA Tournament, off. They plan to take advantage of that and watch Miami take on the fifteenth seeded Pacific Tigers.

Alonso is going to have teammates over to watch the game, while Rodriguez will watch the Hurricanes before attending a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game Thursday night.

Padres’ outfielder Will Venable shares March Madness from a different perspective. He played basketball at Princeton University and competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2004.

“Playing in the Ivy League you only get to play really big games when you go outside of the conference, but even some of the games we were able to play didn’t amount to half of what it meant to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Venable recalls about playing in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament as a junior.

“You realize how important it is not to just your team but to everyone around the country. It’s really something special to be a part of.”

With Princeton not making the tournament this year, Venable will be rooting for Georgetown, home to his former coach at Princeton, John Thompson III.

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Eddy Rodriguez brings value to organization

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Signed by San Diego in 2011 after two independent league seasons, catcher Eddy Rodriguez broke into the big leagues for a short, but sweet nine days last year after Yasmani Grandal went on the disabled list. Now back alongside Major Leaguers as a non-roster invitee in camp, Rodriguez is showing what kind of value he brings to the organization, even though he will all but certainly begin the season in the Minors.

"Where Eddy is in his career, he gives us a lot of protection at where he is," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's a good fundamentally sound catcher, he can throw and he's got a great attitude. He understands the pitcher-catcher relationship and you need guys like Eddy. He still has a desire to be a Major League player."

The 27-year-old Rodriguez was catching with Class A Lake Elsinore on July 31 when he got the call to San Diego. In his first Major League at-bat, he smacked a home run off Reds ace Johnny Cueto, becoming the second Padres player to hit a homer in his first at-bat. Pitcher Dave Eiland also did so in 1992.

"You don't see that often," said Black about Rodriguez being promoted from Class A. "It takes a player with a lot of self-confidence to not be bothered at being in A ball at 27. We know wherever Eddy is, if something happens, he can come to the big leagues and handle himself."

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