After leaving the team in 2002, Ivan Rodriguez returned to the Texas Rangers for the last two months of the season in 2009. Here’s why.
The 2009 Texas Rangers were an interesting mix of young and old, featuring several promising youngsters, stars in their prime, and aging veterans yet to taste the postseason. So in the middle of August that year, with Texas sporting a one game lead in the wild card, and starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia out with thoracic outlet syndrome, Jon Daniels made a move and traded for Ivan Rodriguez. Sure, it fit a need, but it also brought back one of the Rangers’ most popular players of all time.
Rodriguez left the Rangers in 2002 after a heated salary dispute. He eventually signed with the then Florida Marlins and won a World Series in 2003. After a four-year stint in Detroit (in which he played in another World Series), Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees to help New York for a pennant run down the stretch. That off-season, Rodriguez signed a deal with the Houston Astros. That’s right, Pudge was once an Astro.
When the Astros started fading late in the season, Daniels brought back one of the best catchers in baseball history in an attempt to clinch the Rangers’ first playoff appearance since 1999. In theory, Rodriguez was supposed to back up Taylor Teagarden, but I’d bet Daniels was hoping a return to Arlington would help spark Pudge’s bat and turn him into an everyday player.
“It’s huge for our fan base,” Michael Young told the Associated Press at the time. “He might be the best player in the history of our organization and probably the most popular. This is just a great move on all fronts.”
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Rodriguez hit .245 with a couple of home runs in 28 games with the Rangers in 2009. Texas ultimately fell short of the playoffs, and Rodriguez ended up signing with the Washington Nationals the next season.
Despite the result, it was still a fun move by the Rangers to bring home one of the franchise’s most popular players. And though there was no fairy tale ending that saw Rodriguez win a World Series with the team that drafted him, I’m sure plenty of Rangers fans were excited to see Pudge behind the plate again.