Sean Rodriguez(notes) entered the season atop everyone's breakout list. Nobody generated as much spring buzz. Rodriguez hit .460 for Tampa Bay during Grapefruit League play with 13 extra-base hits in 63 at-bats. He led all players in runs-scored (20), and he finished second in both hits (29) and homers (6) this spring.
When he was selected in the late rounds of your fantasy draft, everybody paused to acknowledge the greatness of the pick. MLB Network's Peter Gammons predicted that Rodriguez would be the A.L. Rookie of the Year, and it seemed plausible at the time.
Then, of course, when the regular season began, Rodriguez was a mess. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts on opening day — and that's when his batting average peaked. He's now hitting .211 with just one home run in 71 at-bats. His strikeout percentage (42.3) is the second-worst in baseball. Right or wrong, Rodriguez carries the Quad-A label; he's been an outstanding player in the high minors, but he can't seem to produce in the big leagues.
On Monday, his season reached its low point. While wading in the water near his home, Rodriguez was stung by an actual ray. (The aquatic version. He was not stung by, say, Willy Aybar(notes)). Details here via the St. Petersburg Times:
Rodriguez was on the beach Monday morning behind his Redington Beach rental condo when he took his 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, a couple of feet into the water for a closer look at some dolphins.
A few steps (and a stingray shuffle or two) later, he saw something flash through the water and felt something on his right heel.
"I actually thought it was a catfish at first, that it grazed me. I didn't think much of it," Rodriguez said. "And then I got out of the water, and I was like whoooaaaa."
I'm not aware of any other instance in which a professional athlete has been attacked by the real-life version of his team's animal mascot. Did Ron LeFlore ever fight a live tiger? Can't recall. But I believe the ray-versus-Ray thing is unique.
Paramedics treated the injury and Rodriguez is now fine. He struck out in a pinch-hit appearance against the Red Sox on Tuesday, so this apparently is not one of those scenarios where an unwitting human receives the proportionate powers of an animal, and is thus immediately awesome at everything.
Instead, this seems to be a simple statement made by the global community of stingrays: they no longer wish to be associated with Sean Rodriguez.
Photo via US Presswire