The Nationals could bring Ivan Rodriguez back to the team for 2012, manager Davey Johnson told MLB.com.
Rodriguez, currently out with injury, isn't expected to return to the team before September, clearing up playing time for new backstop Jesus Flores, who is 26 years old and far more relevant to the Nats' future. Rodriguez is hitting .214/.276/.325 this season in 129 plate appearances. It's by far the worst offensive showing in his career, and I-Rod is set to also mark a career low in games played, currently at just 39 with a previous low of 88... set in his first season as a 19-year-old.
"Anybody would be crazy not to have [Rodriguez] back," Johnson said. "He is a tremendous talent. He has been great here this year. He is fun to have around. He can hit, he can catch, he can throw and he adds to our depth at catching. He is a valuable asset. It just depends on the roster and what goes on over the winter and what our needs are."
Despite the ringing endorsement, Johnson did admit that Rodriguez's return will depend on Flores, who was drafted in the Rule 5 draft before 2007 and hit .244/.310/.361 that season. He also saw 90 games worth of time in 23 and was off to a great start in 2009 as a 24-year-old, hitting .301/.371/.505 through 106 PA before injuring himself and missing the rest of the 2009 season, as well as 2010. He's finally back in action, though, and was recently promoted back to the majors where he is at .244/.295/.390 through 16 games.
"It's also a valuable time for Flores to try to regain the status that he had a couple of years ago," Johnson said of the current situation that has Rodriguez on the disabled list. "That will weigh more than Pudge coming back. Everybody knows what Pudge can do."For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.