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Friday, April 12, 2013

Roman Rodriguez saw eight minor league seasons, made AA; Then made bigs as Yankees' bullpen catcher

Roman Rodriguez 1990 Augusta Pirates card, Rodriguez posed with bat on shoulder

As legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera neared the all-time saves record in 2011, he took time out to mess with his bullpen catcher Roman Rodriguez, according to The Newark Star-Ledger.

Rivera chose to mess with Rodriguez by tossing a piece of gum, hitting Rodriguez square in the chest, then break out laughing. Rodriguez could only shake his head, The Star-Ledger wrote.

"He's like a child," Rodriguez, Rivera's bullpen catcher then for nearly a decade, told The Star-Ledger.

Rodriguez has been serving as a bullpen catcher with one team or another since 1997. Before that, he had an eight-season playing career of his own. But, unlike his bullpen catching career, Rodriguez the player never made the majors.

Rodriguez's career in baseball began in 1988, signed by the Pirates as an undrafted free agent out of his native Venezuela.

With the Pirates, Rodriguez started in the rookie Gulf Coast League, moving to rookie Princeton in 1989. He hit .227 his second year, with 27 RBIs.

For 1990, Rodriguez moved to single-A Augusta, hitting .275 in 99 games. He also got 24 games at high-A Salem, hitting .183. In one August contest for Augusta, Rodriguez went 2 for 4, with one RBI.

Rodriguez moved to Salem full time in 1991, then AA Carolina in 1992. His 1992 season was just 28 games long. Despite that, that November, the infielder Rodriguez was still described by The Associated Press as a "top-line prospect."

Rodriguez made it back in 1993 for 1993, but had an even more abbreviated season, just four games. He ended up playing two more seasons, splitting time in 1994 between the Brewers and Angels systems, then ending his career in 1995 back with the Pirates.

From there, Rodriguez started his bullpen catcher career in 1997 with the Royals. He stayed there through 2000. After a season as bullpen catcher for the Red Sox, Rodriguez arrived with the Yankees. He continues as Yankees bullpen catcher for 2013.

In 2005, Rodriguez gave a different meaning to his title, and he joked around a bit himself. That June, the 400th home run for Alex Rodriguez found its way to the Yankees bullpen and the bullpen catcher caught it.

He also acted as though he was going to flip it into the stands, according to The Associated Press. He ended up smiling and keeping it for the Yankees slugger.
Roman Rodriguez 1990 Augusta Pirates card, Rodriguez posed with bat on shoulder
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,071
Made the Majors: 656 - 61.3%
Never Made Majors: 415-38.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 286
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 169

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