It is unknown how long super utility man Ben Zobrist will remain with the Tampa Bay Rays. With the team dead last in the standings, the trade rumor vultures are circling around Tropicana Field. But at least now the Rays have Sean Rodriguez as the perfect heir to take over for Zobrist if that day arrives.
“He’s definitely been a big help in understanding that role and being able to move from one position to another whether it’s in-game or outside of the game,” Rodriguez said about Zobrist. “He’s as good of an example as you’re going to get and I’ve been fortunate to have played with him.”
Even though Zobrist taught him how to be versatile at the Major League level, Rodriguez’s versatility actually runs deep. He was brought up to be a super utility man way back in his amateur playing days while growing up in Miami.
Rodriguez learned the game of baseball from two very influential men, his father and his high school baseball coach. To him, the two men taught him the two most important lessons for both sports and life.
“My old man since I was little always told me, ‘you play wherever the team needs you to play. You can shine doing that or one position. Whatever it takes,’” Rodriguez said.
And from his high school coach: “You can be a leader who’s outspoken, you can be a leader who’s quiet, but either way when you’re playing, lead by example.”
“I haven’t let go of those words he told me way back then,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels out of Braddock High School in Miami, Fla. He was groomed to be their shortstop of the future until he was traded the Rays for Scott Kazmir in 2009.
He’s recently been utilized as an outfielder but has been penciled in at first base in the Rays lineup for their rubber match against the Houston Astros.
He’s hitting .214 but has developed a power swing. In 103 at-bats this season, Rodriguez has seven home runs. The ability to play any position while hitting for power makes Rodriguez a very valuable part of the bench.