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Ivan Rodriguez returning to Nationals' lineup

Stephen Strasburg's highly anticipated debut won't be the only shot in the arm for the struggling Nationals Tuesday night. After a setback-free rehab start for Class A Potomac Monday night, catcher Ivan Rodriguez will be returning to the Nats lineup in time for Strasburg's debut.

In his first action since being placed on the DL on May 24 with a lower back strain, the 38-year-old went 0 for 3 with a strikeout against the Baltimore Orioles affiliate Frederick Keys.

Batting second in the order, Rodriguez saw 10 pitches in his first at-bat, fouling off five before hitting a grounder to third. The third baseman couldn't handle the hard-hit ball and Rodriguez raced to second on the error. He advanced to third on a sacrifice fly two batters later, where he was stranded.

"After that at-bat, my back was in no pain so that was good," Rodriguez said. "After not having seen live pitching for so long, to be able to foul off tough pitches and put the ball in play was great."

In the third inning he crushed an 0-1 fastball foul down the left field line before striking out swinging two pitches later.

In his third and final at-bat of the night, Rodriguez flew out to right field with runners on first and second in the fifth inning.

Rodriguez's first defensive test came in the top of the second inning when the Keys' Ronnie Welty successfully stole second after Rodriguez dropped the ball on the transfer. But he later showed mobility by throwing out a batter at first after a sacrifice bunt and another on a dropped third strike.

"I'm feeling great behind the plate," Rodriguez assured reporters.

While Rodriguez's renowned defensive skills will be a boost for the Nats, his bat will also be a welcome addition -- prior to his DL stint, Rodriguez was hitting .325.

By Jorge Castillo  |  June 7, 2010; 9:36 PM ET
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Next: Tonight's the night for Stephen Strasburg


Welcome back Pudge. Couldn't have a better catcher for Strasburg's first start.

Posted by: KidTJ | June 7, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

A flawless weather forecast, the return of Pudge, and a full stadium for Strasburg's debut. What else could we ask for?! A WIN!

Posted by: roseglasses | June 7, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

The hype raises the expectations way too high. I wish the young man well. If he can handle this, he can get it done for a long time.

Posted by: nats24 | June 8, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Adam's recap doesn't include:
-After a K, Pudge went to throw it down 1B, but Tyler Moore wasn't looking. Pudge instead threw it down to 3B as Lombardozzi at 2B was laughing at Moore's faux pax. Moore was awake for the throw on the next K.
-Brad Peacock, SP, shook off Pudge during the first inning. Huh? Respect your elders, young man.
-With two strikes, Pudge took a pitch that was extremely borderline. Glad to see the home plate umpire knew the right thing to do: call it a ball.
-MOST IMPORTANTLY: Pudge left after 6, showered, and came out of the locker room to face a throng of fans in the hallway. If you've been to the stadium, you know there isn't a lot of room when coming out of the locker room. However, Pudge was so damn gracious as he stood there signing everything for everyone. He didn't have to do that: he could've jumped in his vehicle and taken off, but he stood in there and took a great deal of time signing this, that and the other for everyone. Just tremendous.

Posted by: joemktg1 | June 8, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

YAYYY!!! Pudge is back!! Maybe now the Nats can get out of their losing ways and put a winning streak together.
When Pudge went out, the losing began. Shows the need for a real experienced catcher that can call a good game instead of every pitch low and away or high above the zone.

Posted by: M20832 | June 8, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Nieves is okay, but the Nats have suffered not having Pudge calling pitches. Welcome back.

Posted by: shanks1 | June 8, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Pudge. Hey, ya think maybe our pitchers will get some of the close calls, now? Nah.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

What GREAT news! Can hardly wait to get to the park tonight. It IS a beautiful day for baseball!

Posted by: Section416akatheAlps | June 8, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

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