Pudge deal with Nats awaiting physical

Pudge deal with Nats awaiting physical

INDIANAPOLIS -- A day after it was revealed that the Nationals and catcher Ivan Rodriguez agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal, general manager Mike Rizzo and team president Stan Kasten decided not to talk to local reporters about Rodriguez because, according to baseball sources, there is a physical pending.

Rodriguez, who was not available for comment, most likely will take his physical in Washington D.C. on Thursday or Friday, and the Nationals will hold a news conference soon thereafter.

Rodriguez, 38, will serve as a backup and role model to Jesus Flores, who is expected to be ready for Spring Training after having surgery on his right shoulder and right elbow. It turns out that Rodriguez is one of Flores' baseball heroes.

However, another source told MLB.com that Rodriguez could be the Opening Day catcher for Washington in 2010 because manager Jim Riggleman does not want to rush Flores back on the field.

"[The Nationals] want to go slow with Flores," the source said. "By June, Flores and Rodriguez may split time, or [Riggleman] may go with the hot hand. We know this -- Rodriguez is not going to play 100 games."

The Nationals have targeted Rodriguez since the 2009 season came to an end. They feel he has a lot left in the tank -- offensively and defensively -- and can be a huge difference in the clubhouse. The team does not feel, however, that he can play over 100 games like he did in 16 out of his 19 years in the big leagues.

"He is comfortable with his role. He knows where he is at in his career," said a person familiar with Rodriguez. "He knows how to be most productive for the ballclub. This guy is a consummate team player. He is there to win. He is a true champion-type of player."

With Rodriguez past his prime, however, why did the Nationals sign him to a two-year deal? One source said the catcher could have accepted arbitration from the Rangers or inked a one-year deal worth a lot more money than what the Nationals were offering. Adding the extra year enticed Rodriguez to join the Nats. Rodriguez did not want to sign a one-year deal with Washington.

Rodriguez has played in 14 All-Star Games and won 13 Gold Glove Awards, most by a catcher and tied for fourth most at any position. The 1999 American League MVP Award winner also has more runs (1,277), hits (2,618) and doubles (526) than any other backstop in Major League history.

Rodriguez served as a backup for the Rangers after being acquired from the Astros in August. He played in a combined 121 games and hit .249 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 2009.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.