Sean Rodriguez Playing Isn't Sean Rodriguez's Fault

This is a real tough sell to the fans

Colin Dunlap
June 25, 2018 - 12:57 pm

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I've consumed the Pirates a long time. 

I'm not old, but I'm old enough. I remember a lot of things as it pertains to the Pirates. 

And I'll tell you -- playing Sean Rodriguez over the past weekend was the biggest head-scratcher since, well, playing Sean Rodriguez over Pedro Alvarez at first base in the 2015 Wild Card game against the Cubs. 

In three starts over the weekend, Rodriguez went 0 for 9 with six strikeouts. He is 2 for his past 35 with 19 strikeouts. He is, quite literally, 1-for-June (he is 1 for 25 so far this month) for a .040 average. That ain't good by any measure. 

So why is SRod continually getting marched out there? Something about clumping chances together or something, the general manager said on Sunday as he addressed the inquisitive media. 

Neal Huntington said the utilityman, who to be fair is one of the best teammates anyone has known, needed a "cluster of at bats" to perhaps get going. 

Sorry, Neal. Not happening. And, even more to the point, it never should have happened. Whether it was a directive from you or Clint Hurdle penciled Rodriguez into the lineup --- or a bit of both as I suspect --- there's no selling to the fan base that Rodriguez should get any run right now. Nice guy or not, clubhouse leader or not, he should be nailed to the bench for now and then given some walking papers when Jung Ho Kang is ready to return to the big leagues. 

No matter how bad this team is. 

No matter how much Jordy Mercer needs a day off. 

No matter what the excuse is. 

There has to be another way; there's got to be another guy.

Fans are looking for something to be mad about --- even more so than the 36-41 record --- and the continued insistence on giving Rodriguez playing time has infuriated them.  

It's to the point where people want Max Moroff to get called up and get at bats. That's where we are right now in Piratesville. 

“We’re looking for a breakthrough; he’s looking for a breakthrough,” Hurdle said. “The game’s been hard for us the past month. It’s been hard for him for a while now. … So trying to get him some reps. ... But it’s been challenging for him, and I’m sure he tells you the same thing.”

I guess. I really don't know. 

But what I do know is this scenario will never play out...

Clint Hurdle: "Hey Sean, come on in here and sit down, we need to chat."  

Sean Rodriguez: "Sure thing, what do you need Skipper?" 

CH: "I know that things are going a bit rough for you right now. Your choice, do you want to play today?" 

SRod: "You know what? Nah. I'll just hang around the dugout in a pullover. That playing stuff is for the birds. Heck, who wants to really play anyway? I'll just have some sunflower seeds, Gatorade and get a tan." 

Again, that will never play out. Ever. In this history of baseball, such a conversation has never once occurred. Know why? Because 1,000 percent of the time a player is going to want to play. A guy is going to want to get in there --- even when he might not be at full speed or skilled enough --- and he's going to want to try like heck. That's where Rodriguez is at this point. Sadly, he might have reached a point in his career where he just might not have that much left. Truly, it is tough to see, but it appears his reality. And I mean this --- he's a good man.  

But that's why managers are employed. That's why general managers get paid really well. They need to be the educated arbiters of playing time and decide exactly who gets it and who doesn't. It's been strikingly obvious for awhile now that Rodriguez shouldn't get much, save for a limited bench role. But he's about the last guy to blame or get mad at in all of this. 

Hurdle and Huntington are charged with the duty of making sure the best nine players hit the field each night for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Somehow, some way, in some alternate universe with some selective reasoning they decided over the weekend, and for three games, that Sean Rodriguez was one of those best nine players. 

I've seen a lot of Pirates baseball in my life. It was one of the most baffling decisions I can remember.