MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico -- Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was the center of attention on Friday night at the Caribbean Series.
The Washington catcher and Puerto Rican baseball legend sent the crowd at Isidoro Garcia Stadium into a frenzy when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former big leaguer Carlos Baerga before the evening's contest between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Rodriguez was the star of the show.
His role with the Nationals is not as clearly defined. Rodriguez, 39, is on track to share time with young catchers Wilson Ramos or Jesus Flores in Washington this season. He could earn the starting nod, or he could end up as the backup catcher. Either way, Rodriguez is not worried about his role in 2011.
"This isn't a competition," Rodriguez said. "Ramos and Flores are the catchers of the future, and I know that. I've always been the type of person that likes to help my teammates, and that's what I'm going to do with them. I'm happy to do it."
Rodriguez, who is in the final year of a two-year deal with the Nationals, hit .266 with four home runs and 49 RBIs in 111 games last season. He needs 183 hits to reach the 3,000-hit mark, and is not ready to talk about retirement.
"I'm just going to show up ready to play, like I always do," he said. "I'm not thinking about playing time, right now. Nobody has said anything to me about that. I'll show up to Spring Training, and we'll see what works best. All I know is that I'm ready and I feel great."