02/15/09 10:29 PM EST
Pudge prefers Mets, Marlins, Astros
Veteran All-Star catcher declares himself fitter than he's been in years
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Rodriguez is in Florida, where he is preparing to again catch for Team Puerto Rico in next month's World Baseball Classic.Earlier this offseason, he declared himself to be in his best shape in years and vowed that whichever team signed him would not regret it. "I'm in great shape," Rodriguez said. "Whoever gets me, it's going to be a lot like hitting the lotto. I'm back in the shape I was in 2004. I'm at 195 to 200 [pounds], and I'm ready to go." Rodriguez batted .295 in 82 games last season in Detroit before the Tigers dealt him prior to the July 31 trading deadline to the Yankees, with whom his stock appeared to slump. In 31 games with the Bombers, he managed only a .219 average. Nevertheless, the 37-year-old vet retains a .301 lifetime average. Detroit manager Jim Leyland still speaks highly of Rodriguez. "I have nothing bad to say about that guy. It got to the point with us where he wanted more than we were willing to give, and we decided to make a deal," Leyland said during the December Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. "But I have the utmost respect for him as a player. He's in phenomenal shape. He plays hurt, wants to play every day, and he's a great guy on a team." Rodriguez has caught 2,173 games, trailing only Carlton Fisk (2,226) and Bob Boone (2,225).
"Absolutely, I'd like to break Mr. Fisk's record. And another goal is 3,000 hits," said Rodriguez, who is sitting on 2,605.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.