Pudge's pro attitude as backup helps Nats

Pudge's pro attitude as backup helps Nats

Pudge's pro attitude as backup helps Nats
NEW YORK -- The Nationals are grateful they are not going through a catching controversy like the Yankees experienced with catcher Jorge Posada recently.

Last month, Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez took the news well after manager Jim Riggleman told the 14-time All Star that he would be a backup player, while Wilson Ramos would get most of the playing time.

Since then, Rodriguez has been a mentor to Ramos while still seeing his share of playing time. In fact, Rodriguez was in the starting lineup against the Mets on Thursday afternoon. Although, Rodriguez was hitting .238 for the season entering Thursday's action, he was 7-for-20 (.340) with runners in scoring position.

"The conversation we had with him in the spring was to let him know that he was going to catch Opening Day ... but as we go through the season, Pudge was going to take more of a backup role," Riggleman said. "I didn't know how that conversation was going to go. He said, 'Anything you need, that's what I'm here for. I'm here to help the team win. However you need to use me, I still have a lot of baseball left.'

"That was the perfect response from a true professional. He has become a real contributor. He plays like a regular still, so we try to get as much out of him as we can. We'll take advantage of what he could still give us. But at the same time, [we'll] develop Ramos."

Riggleman believes if Rodriguez was still a No. 1 catcher, he could catch five days a week. The skipper also mentioned that Rodriguez is having a great year behind the plate.

"Throwing the ball and blocking the ball behind the plate, he is as good as he has ever been. I think [he's doing] better than he did last year, and he did a great job last year," Riggleman said. "He is really at the top of his game defensively."