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.
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