MLB

Ivan Rodriguez hoping for another shot

Ivan Rodriguez hit just .218 last year but wants to reach 3,000 hits.
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DETROIT (AP)

Ivan Rodriguez is working out daily to keep his 40-year-old body in shape, hoping he'll get a chance to play this season.

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The 14-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glove catcher insists he's not ready to retire yet.

''I can still play,'' Rodriguez said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday from his home in Miami. ''But it has been a tough market for veterans.

''There are a lot of guys who have won championships and have playoff experience to offer teams with no jobs. It's hard to believe.''

Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez and Jason Varitek are among the big names available.

A strained right oblique limited Rodriguez to a career-low 44 games last year with Washington and he hit just .218 with two homers and 19 RBI.

''Everything is fine with my health and I feel great mentally,'' Rodriguez said. ''I'm still working out every day in the gym, on the track and on the baseball field to stay ready.

''I cannot control when I get a call, but I can control what kind of shape I'm in so I am focusing on that.''

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Rodriguez is a career .296 hitter with 311 homers and 1,332 RBI with Texas, Florida, Detroit, the New York Yankees, Houston and Washington. He has won three more Gold Gloves than any other catcher and was the 1999 AL MVP and 2003 NL championship series MVP.

He has 2,844 career hits — another record for a catcher — and said being in the 3,000-hit club is ''absolutely'' important to him, saying the milestone motivates him to work out harder.

''Of course, I would love to get 3,000 hits and win another World Series before I hang up my spikes and glove,'' said Rodriguez, who helped the Marlins win it all in 2003. ''But I am not a person to just follow numbers. I just want to go to the ballpark every day to help a team win and to work with a pitching staff.''

Rodriguez, Mike Piazza (396) and Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk (351), Johnny Bench (327) and Yogi Berra (306) are the only catchers with 300-plus home runs. Piazza is eligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year.

Rodriguez isn't ready to start his five-year clock to get on the Cooperstown ballot.

''I still have a lot of baseball left in me,'' he said. ''All I can do is wait for a chance to show what I can still do.''

Tagged: Nationals, Ivan Rodriguez

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