Rangers Gold Glovers still want to keep playing
Twilight of the Defensive Gods
They are three of the best defensive players in the history of the game. They have won 34 Gold Gloves between them and have filled up plenty of highlight reels with their spectacular plays.
Their lockers are side-by-side in the visitor’s clubhouse at Safeco Field in Seattle, forming a three-man Mount Rushmore of defensive brilliance: catcher Ivan Rodriguez, infielder Omar Vizquel and outfielder Andruw Jones.
Now, after a combined 54 seasons and 7,101 games played, the three of them made one thing clear on Saturday.
All three want and expect to play again in 2010.
Rodriguez met with general manager Jon Daniels on Friday here in Seattle. Daniels told Rodriguez that the Rangers have interest in re-signing him for 2010.
“I’m sure they’ll make a decision,” Rodriguez said. “I talked to Jon and he said he would get back to me in the off-season. I told him I wanted to come back. I want to finish my career here and still want to play a few more years.
“This club needs to stay together for next season. Winning 87 games is a great season. We wanted to make the playoffs but we need to take some positives out of this and a positive is 87 wins. I think next season will be better.”
Rodriguez, who turns 38 in November, was re-acquired from the Astros on Aug. 18 and is hitting .245 with two home runs eight doubles, 14 runs scored and 13 RBI in 28 games.
“Physically I have no problems other than I’m sick right now,” said Rodriguez, one of several Rangers fighting the flu in Seattle. “My legs and body feel great. I know how to take care of myself. I work very hard to keep myself in good shape.”
The Rangers have two young catchers in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Rodriguez understands that and understands that his playing time could be limited. He still accepts that.
“Teagarden has a great future,” Rodriguez said. “Saltalamacchia has a great future. I have to be realistic. It’s hard for me to play every day. If I play two or three times a week, one or two times a week, whatever, and help the kids, that would be okay. It would be a good thing to stay here and help the kids.
“I don’t know what they’ll do but I hope we work something out. If not, we’ll see what happens.”
Jones is ending the season as the Rangers first baseman. He was in the lineup on Saturday at first base for the third game in a row. Hank Blalock remains sidelined after suffering a mild concussion Wednesday night and Chris Davis is limited to designated hitter duty because of his hamstring.
Jones went into Saturday’s game hitting .209 with 17 home runs and 43 RBI in 81 games and 278 at-bats. It’s an improvement over last year when he hit .158 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 75 games for the Dodgers. But he was hoping for better.
“It was kind of okay,” Jones said. “Well, not really. It’s not the way I wanted to go. Power-wise the numbers were good. Average-wise not so good. Lack of consistency…I knew the situation coming in but I wasn’t getting consistent at-bats like I did early in the season. I knew I was going to play every day but I thought I’d get more consistent at-bats like I did early in the season.”
Jones is only 32. He expects to keep playing next year for somebody. It won’t be for the Rangers. Club officials have made it clear he’s not expected back in 2010. He’ll try for somebody.
“I still feel I can play,” Jones said. “I still feel I can play the outfield. I don’t know if I can play center field but I can help a team in the corners and I can play first base too. We’ll see.
“I’m not done yet.”
Vizquel is 42.
Anybody who watched him play this year can tell that he can still field a baseball and he can field it at any position. How about the night Michael Young had to leave the game against the Blue Jays with a strained left hamstring?
Vizquel went into the game, playing the position for only the ninth time in his career. He then made a spectacular play, diving to his right and throwing from his knee to get the out at first base.
Vizquel may no longer be a front-line everyday shortstop but he proved he could be a valuable utility infielder. He does not have an error this season.
“That is something I surprised myself with,” Vizquel said. “I had never played any other position but shortstop. I didn’t get many chances at second and third but I was able to handle it.”
The Rangers have interest in Vizquel returning. He said he would be interested in coming back but wants to see what else is out there. Vizquel suggests in a roundabout way that he never expected Elvis Andrus to be this good this fast and he thought he would play more than he did this season.
“I didn’t know Elvis and the kind of player he was,” Vizquel said. “He slowly improved in every department. I was surprised he took to the challenge of playing every day. They told me he was 20 and I thought that was young. But he showed he can be one of the best shortstops in the game, not only to me but everybody.”
As for 2010, Vizquel made it clear…
“I’m going to get ready to play another year,” Vizquel said.