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Nationals dedicate youth field to 'Pudge'

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez did not play for long in Washington, where he spent the final two seasons of his 22-year career.

Yet, that was more than enough time to form a strong enough bond with the community that the Nationals, the Dream Foundation and Rodriguez, the newly inducted Hall of Famer, dedicated the fully renovated Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Field on Monday morning at Mason District Park in Annandale, Va.

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WASHINGTON -- Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez did not play for long in Washington, where he spent the final two seasons of his 22-year career.

Yet, that was more than enough time to form a strong enough bond with the community that the Nationals, the Dream Foundation and Rodriguez, the newly inducted Hall of Famer, dedicated the fully renovated Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Field on Monday morning at Mason District Park in Annandale, Va.

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The field features a brand new scoreboard, will accommodate youth baseball teams and serve the surrounding community by hosting the Mason District Little League games. It is the second "Legacy Field" for the Nationals Dream Foundation, which began a program last season to renovate one youth baseball or softball field in the D.C. region each year. Ryan Zimmerman Field, located a few blocks away from Nationals Park in the Randall Recreation Center, was the first to be completed in 2016.

Rodriguez has helped unveil a few fields dedicated in his honor, including one in Texas with the Rangers and multiple fields in his native Puerto Rico.

"I think it is great for the community," Rodriguez said. "The way it was before and what it is today is amazing. We're all doing this just for the best of the kids, so the kids can have a better place to play. That's the main thing, just to keep them positive, to stay away from trouble and come over here and have fun."

Tweet from @Nationals: If you build it... pic.twitter.com/0ufg1ri7t8

Rodriguez was also inducted into the Nationals Ring of Honor at Nationals Park prior to Monday night's 11-2 win over the Marlins. He also reminisced on his time with the Nationals from 2010-11, before the team transformed into one of the most successful Major League franchises, on the verge of its fourth National League East title in the past six seasons. He recalled catching Stephen Strasburg's electric Major League debut and knowing the Nats were on the verge of a turnaround.

And although his stint with the team was brief, Rodriguez left an impression, and the field will help him leave his mark in the community.

"I think it's the kind of person that he is," Zimmerman said of his former teammate. "He's always in a good mood, he's infectious. I think it's just -- if you play baseball and you're on his team -- it's hard not to like him. For a guy that accomplished all he had accomplished, to come here, you had no idea what to expect. Some guys at that stage of their career are not that way, but I feel like that's the way he's going to be always. That's the way I'll always think of him."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals