Quick turnaround for Ivan Rodriguez
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez will start this afternoon's game against the Chicago White Sox after also starting last night's 2-1 loss in extra innings. Typically for a day game following a night game, Rodriguez would get the day off, but Manager Jim Riggleman is opting to rest his future Hall of Famer on Sunday, when the Nationals wrap up their three-game set against the White Sox with a 1:35 p.m. start.
Rodriguez, 38, leads Washington starters with a .331 average and has been instrumental in the development of the young pitching staff. But the 14-time all-star has battled back problems this season, including missing 14 games. Since coming back, Rodriguez has gone 10 for 28 with three doubles and five RBI.
To keep Rodriguez as fresh as possible, Riggleman's preference is to use the 13-time Gold Glove winner no more than three days in a row. Wil Nieves will start at catcher on Sunday.
"Today's kind of that in-between game," Riggleman said, referring to the first pitch scheduled to take place at 4:10. "Most of the time I won't catch Pudge day game after a night game, however, if he's really feeling good and it's sandwiched around an off day coming up, and stuff like that, I could see him still doing that. He's done it once or twice this year."
As stout at the plate as Rodriguez has been, Nieves has been a liability there lately. Nieves is hitting .175 this season, including .103 in his past 15 games. He has just four hits over that stretch.
"Will has struggled a little bit, but he's really a great job catching," Riggleman said. "I think most of the time, you'll find guys are that number two catcher, a lot of times their offensive numbers are down because they're not getting the consistent at-bats. . . . He's got hitting ability. He's struggled, but he's got hitting ability. He shows it at times, puts in a lot of work with [hitting coach] Rick [Eckstein], and I think it's going to pay off for him in the long run, but it's a struggle for him right now."
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