During nights over the past week, Ivan Rodriguez sat at home in Washington and watched the Nationals games. By the time the seventh or eighth inning arrived, he shut off the television. He could bear to watch without being there. “I’m hyper,” he said.
Rodriguez returned to Nationals Park tonight, still trying to return from a strained right oblique that has already held him out six weeks. He twice tried to start his minor league rehab while the Nationals were away, once in Hagerstown and again in Harrisburg. Both times, he suffered too much soreness when he swung. There was a Hagerstown Suns cap hanging in Rodriguez’s locker.
The Nationals have stressed to Rodriguez not to test himself. A strained oblique must be treated with rest. Manager Davey Johnson has told constantly not to swing before the Nationals trainers clear him. Rodriguez had a hard time following the advice.
“That’s not me,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t relax.”
Today, Rodriguez played catch, and he’ll play catch tomorrow, too, with no swings. “Then go from there,” Rodriguez said. “If it’s me, I’d go play. That’s the way I am.”
Rodriguez has grown especially frustrated with not playing. Already this season, he had to learn to accept a backup role after a career spent playing every day. Now, he said, he knows other players feel when they are hurt and not playing.
“It’s hard,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I love to do. I want to play baseball. I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. That’s part of baseball.”