Work in Sports
Rangers' Pudge fractures thumb, lost for season
Rodriguez, regarded by many as the best all-around catcher in the majors, began the day batting .347 with 27 home runs and 83 RBIs.
"That's what happens when the team isn't going good," Rodriguez said. "What can I do? But I have a strong mind and I'll be ready for spring training."
Rodriguez was hurt when his thumb hit Mo Vaughn's bat on a swinging third strike as he threw to second base on Kevin Stocker's steal attempt. Stocker was called out by home plate umpire Gerry Davis on batter's interference.
Rodriguez said Vaughn did nothing wrong, and added the Angels first baseman left a message in the Rangers clubhouse expressing his sorrow.
"I don't think it was on purpose," Rodriguez said. "Mo is a very clean player."
Rodriguez, 28, played earlier this month in his ninth straight All-Star game. He has won eight consecutive Gold Glove awards, an AL record.
Rodriguez, the Rangers' career hits leader, will have surgery Tuesday afternoon at a Fort Worth hospital to repair the break at the base of his thumb.
Team director of medical services Dr. John Conway said Rodriguez will need 6-10 weeks for the fracture to heal. Rodriguez will be able to resume sports-related activities in 2-4 months.
Conway said there were no guarantees that Rodriguez would be able to fully recover.
"Anytime there's an injury like this, there's a possibility for a loss of performance," Conway said. "But we think he'll make a full recovery."
Earlier this year, the Rangers said Rodriguez would spend time in the offseason learning a new position, possibly second base, in hopes of reducing the rigors of catching.
The Rangers purchased the contract of catcher B.J. Waszgis from Class AAA Oklahoma. Rodriguez will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.
Rodriguez was taken to a hospital for X-rays, which revealed the fracture. The Rangers said he would have surgery Tuesday.
"As soon as it happened, my thumb went numb. There was swelling and I knew it was broken and I'd be out for the season," he said.
The Rangers, the AL West champion the last two seasons, began the night 10 1/2 games behind division-leading Seattle.
This year, Rodriguez had thrown out 16 of 33 (48.5 percent) would-be basestealers. Last year, he caught 54.2 percent, the fifth straight season he led the AL in that category.
Rodriguez won the MVP last year when he hit .332 with an AL-record 35 home runs by a catcher. He had 113 RBIs and scored 116 runs.
"I was having a strong season, so it's disappointing for it to end two months before it was supposed to," Rodriguez said. "But there's always next season. I'll just go out and put up better numbers next year."
Rangers general manager Doug Melvin said Rodriguez's season-ending injury, coupled with the loss of highly touted rookie center fielder Ruben Mateo to a broken right leg on June 2, seemed to sum up his team's season.
"This is a sad day," Melvin said. "We always take Pudge for granted that he's always going to be out there. But you have to realize it can happen to anybody. You wonder which player your team can least afford to lose. He falls into that category."
"The clock is still running on our players who are going to be free agents," Melvin said. "But that doesn't change our thinking. We're still going to try and win every game that we can. This does give a chance to some of our young players."