Texas Rangers

Pudge could be upstaged by Beltre hit, Darvish deal

Ivan Rodriguez talks about new book, steroids denial

Ivan Rodriguez says there's a reason they call him Pudge, stocky and strong via hard work in the gym during his Texas Rangers career _ not performance-enhancing drugs (video by Jeff Wilson).
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Ivan Rodriguez says there's a reason they call him Pudge, stocky and strong via hard work in the gym during his Texas Rangers career _ not performance-enhancing drugs (video by Jeff Wilson).

Induction weekend for a player entering the Hall of Fame is a lot like his wedding, minus the tuxedo, the dancing and the DJ.

He gets to see a lot of friends and family, but the demands of the ceremony and reception make it difficult to soak it all in.

That’s what Ivan Rodriguez started to understand Friday, as his day started with a media circuit and questions he has already answered a million times. He’ll get more of that Saturday, with a media free-for-all in the afternoon and a parade just before dinnertime.

But it’s not all work for Rodriguez, who was planning on two rounds of golf, weather permitting, and gets to celebrate his ticket to baseball immortality Saturday night with friends and family at a private party before the Sunday induction.

But the anticipation is building on what will be a once-in-a-lifetime weekend for him and a potentially seismic weekend for the Texas Rangers.

“I’m just excited, I guess,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes you being excited and anxious makes you nervous. It’s going to be fun. Just being here, to hold that plaque in my hand and be in that Hall of Fame and that museum for life, and to be on that stage and look behind me, all of the Hall of Famers are going to be behind me, it’s an unbelievable thing. It’s great.”

Rodriguez will be inducted along with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig. About the time the big shindig begins, the Rangers could be on the verge of trading Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre could be a swing away from the 3,000th hit of his career.

Pudge to the Hall, Darvish to the (fill in the blank), Beltre to a landmark milestone.

A perfect storm is brewing, and Rodriguez will adjust if Beltre tries to upstage him.

“I’ll be saying it on stage,” said Rodriguez, the 52nd player to be elected his first time on the Hall ballot. “It’s not in my speech, but if he does it, I’ll do it.”

Rodriguez spent a chunk of his morning making the rounds with the media, starting with Fox Sports Southwest and then the Rangers’ beat writers. His new book, “They Call Me Pudge,” prompted a question that is likely to be raised again.

In the first chapter, Rodriguez writes that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. He said so again Friday.

“I never took it,” said Rodriguez, who played for the Rangers from 1991-2002 in his 21-year career. “Never.”

Frank Thomas, inducted two years ago, huffed and puffed over the off-season about Rodriguez and Bagwell getting in. Thomas implied that their careers were fueled by steroids, not the hard work that Rodriguez said propelled him to greatness.

Behind the scenes, away from the cameras and notebooks and opposing players, Rodriguez was working out at 9 a.m. for 7 p.m. games. During spring training, he was out running after the day’s game, long after all other players had gone to the beach in Florida.

So far, Rodriguez said that the Hall of Famers he has encountered have been welcoming and gracious.

“Congratulations, welcome, well-deserved, things like that,” Rodriguez said. “Yesterday we went to Italian restaurant and the whole restaurant was Hall of Famers. Bagwell, Raines, me, George Brett, Ryne Sandberg, the whole restaurant was for us. This morning I was having breakfast and some of the guys were there, Ozzie Smith. It was great. It was fun.”

Rodriguez has been working on his speech for months and is prepared to speak in English and Spanish. He said that it’s about eight minutes in length.

But that’s a couple days away. He has much more to take tend to — media, friends, family, but, most importantly, golf — before taking the stage to cap what is a once-in-a-lifetime weekend for him.

And a potentially seismic weekend for the Rangers.

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