Shortly after the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ season-ending 6-4 loss to the Durham Bulls in Game 4 of the Governors’ Cup Finals back in September, Eddy Rodriguez had said he was “99 percent sure” that he was done. He had just finished his last season.
At 31 years old, the veteran catcher was fresh off the first season in which he had caught 80 games since 2013. He also caught 300 innings more than any of his fellow RailRiders backstops.
Rodriguez decided to make it official on Friday, announcing on Twitter that he was retiring from the game.
“This was an extremely hard decision to make, but at the same time (I’m) excited about what the future holds,” Rodriguez wrote. “These past 12 years have taken many turns and twists, but the best part has been the people that I have met. This game seems to connect us on and off the field in a way that nothing else can.
“As I say goodbye to my playing career the only thing I can say is, ‘Thank you.’ Thank you to my teammates, thank you to my coaches, thank you to the host families, thank you to the people that would let me use their facilities and fields this season, thank you to friends/coaches that would invest their time with me in the offseason, thank you to my family for dealing with me being away from home for such long periods of time. Just thank you to everyone for making this one hell of a ride!”
Rodriguez’s final season will go down as an impressive one.
While his production at the plate was up and down, he led a young pitching staff to some of the best marks in the International League. The RailRiders led the league in ERA (3.33), tied for first in WHIP with Durham (1.19), were second in strikeouts (1,249) and allowed the least hits (507) and second-least runs (507). Rodriguez also threw out base runners at an impressive rate of 44.2 percent.
“It sucks that we ended it this way, but I’m not looking at it that way,” Rodriguez said back in September, of the season ending in the finals. “I’m just glad that we did accomplish what we were trying to accomplish: Come out and try and compete in the Cup.”
But just because Rodriguez’s playing career has come to a close after 12 years, that doesn’t mean RailRiders fans won’t get one last chance to interact with the catcher. Rodriguez is one of three trainers in the upcoming RailRiders University Holiday Camp, which will take place at the end of the month at PNC Field.
“Now that I’m done, in my future endeavours, that’s going to kind of be my ‘why,’” Rodriguez said. “My ‘why’ is going to be reaching as many people as I can and engraving in them, ‘Hey man, I grew up in a trailer park and I’ve accomplished quite a bit. So if I could do it — I have no special talents — we all are just fine.’”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle