Players caught off guard by Pudge deal
Memories of inspirational catcher abound in Tigers' clubhouse
CLEVELAND -- Most of the Tigers didn't have to come to Progressive Field until later in the afternoon because they weren't taking full batting practice. By the time many arrived, their future Hall of Fame catcher was a New York Yankee.
Third baseman Carlos Guillen found out about the Ivan Rodriguez trade when he arrived in the Tigers' clubhouse. Center fielder Curtis Granderson found out beforehand through a text message from a friend and a hop to the internet.
"The best way I can summarize," Granderson said, "is that you never know what's going to happen, especially how quick stuff happens."
Either way, the realization that Rodriguez -- who had been a huge part of the club's rise to contention -- has been traded is out.
"It was one of those moments," said left-hander Nate Robertson, who joined the Tigers' rotation full time with Rodriguez behind the plate in 2004. "I didn't expect him to get traded. I don't know if there was a whole lot of speculation. He's been my catcher for five years. You throw to a guy for that long, to see him go, it's one of those moments."
There were similar sentiments in the clubhouse to varying degrees, but a realization, too, that baseball is a business. Players have realized the past couple years that the Tigers won't hesitate to make a trade, big or small, if the belief is that it'll improve the club or address a need. They also knew that Rodriguez was a free agent at season's end, so something could be possible.
"It's a business when it's all said and done," Granderson said. "The move was made, I assume, to make both sides better. Of course you don't want to see a teammate leave that I had a chance to play with since 2004. Of course you don't want to lose that part, but Dombrowski and the front office are trying to do something to better this ballclub. We understand that, and now we accept that and continue to move on."
They didn't have a whole lot of time. They had a game to play, and it ended up going 13 innings. Rodriguez was likely already back in Detroit by the time the game was over, having been furnished with a limousine back home before heading to New York on Thursday morning.
"I think each guy has their own special feeling about a situation like that, maybe a memory of Pudge, some game when he and Pudge played together," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think you allow players to handle that the way they want to handle it. But as a unit, you have to push on."
Robertson has plenty of memories. He was one of the young pitchers who has worked with Rodriguez for the vast majority of his Major League career.
"Obviously, he's a very confident player," Robertson said. "He came in '04 with a lot of confidence coming off a World Series championship. He earned our respect, and I think that's all you can ask of people is to get their respect. Guys looked to him to be a leader, and he certainly has done that role. He had a great career here. He did a great job, and I'm sure he's welcome in New York right now with their situation."
That's one upshot Guillen sees in the deal for both the Tigers and for Rodriguez.
"The Yankees need a catcher. We need a bullpen pitcher," Guillen said. "It's good for us and good for him. I think he's very happy."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.