THE MODERATOR: Pudge Rodriguez is here with us in the interview room.
Q. Pudge, when you signed with the Tigers, there were players who wouldn't come no matter how much the Tigers gave them. Just look back now at that moment for you and what has happened to this franchise, where they are regularly going to the playoffs and knocking on the door of the championship.
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Well, you know, when I came, I came from ‑‑ in '03, the World Series with the Marlins and came here. And that year it was the year they ‑‑ the Tigers lost like 116. And everybody is telling me why you came to the club?
And the reason I came here is because I saw the talent. When I came here, they just tried to rebuild the team and bring in some new faces, new team, new players, and that's what they did.
Dombrowski and ‑‑ when we're talking in the negotiations, he told me that he's going to put a winning team together. And basically that's what he did. I signed, you know, Magglio signed, Magglio Ordoñez signed. They got a trade for Guillen to the ballclub and Cabrera.
And you can see the results right now. The way the team plays right now, came in the World Series, we ‑‑ after two years, you know, '06 we were in the World Series like Dave told me.
And after that, everything was history. The team becomes a winning team, always in the pennant race. And that's the reason that they play so well right now.
Q. Pudge, you played with Miggy when he came up here, and now you watched him have the season he had. Can you talk about the season he had and if you were still putting down fingers, how you would witch him.
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: There is no hope for him, like he is unbelievable. He is a tremendous athlete, a tremendous player.
And, for me, no question about it, he would have to be the MVP this year for sure. When you are a Triple Crown winner, you have to be an MVP.
But the thing about Miguel that impressed me the most this year was the transition from first base to third base, you know, and be able to do those numbers offensively. It is not easy when they tell you in the offseason you are moving from first to third base and then you have to change gloves and start getting some ground balls in different positions, and be able to finish the season the way he did, healthy, no injuries, and helping the team to be in the position that they are right now.
So it's amazing. All in all, he's a smart player, a great guy. I had a chance to play with him for a few years, you know. When he came up, he was with the Marlins and, you know, we knew since day one how good he's going to be.
And you can see how good a player he is. And he's going to be even better, to be honest with you. He has a lot of years left in his career, and he's going to have a lot of good years left.
Q. You caught Justin Verlander when he was a rookie. Just talk about what you have seen from his development over the years.
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Well, you know, when I start to catch him and we start to work together, we knew that his talent, he is going to be great. When you have the fastball, you know, that he has and pitches he has, he can throw all of them for strikeout in any count. That tells you how good he is.
And, basically, you know, through the years he's been more a pitcher than, you know ‑‑ he mix the pitches and throw the pitches in the corners and locate the fastball and pitching in.
I am a good fan of pitching in to hitters, so when you do that and you're not afraid to pitch in, you know, you're going to end up having a good year.
And basically that's him, you know. He's a very basic guy. It doesn't matter how many pitches he can throw. He can throw 100. He can throw 130 pitches. And he's amazing. When you have a guy that throws 120, 130 and the last pitch throws close to 100 miles an hour, that tells you how good of shape he is in and how good, you know, he is a pitcher himself.
So he is going to be unbelievable. He has already given ‑‑ and I think he is going to be even better. And I am very happy for him that he's doing a very good job.
Q. Pudge, how happy would you be for Mr. Illitch if this team can win the World Series he invested a lot of money to try to chase, and what do you think it will mean to him?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: I think it is going to mean a lot to him. He's been a sport fan, you know, for a long, long time, him and his family.
And I think it's time for him, you know. I think it's the year for him to have a World Series trophy in his hands. I think it's going to be great for him. He is going to feel very good about that and his family and all the work, all of the hard work that they have done, you know, since a long time ago, a long time ago with their group of people, you know, Avila, Dombrowski, all of the guys in the front office. They do hard work to become the organization and the team that they have on the field right now, he deserves to be a World Champion.
Q. Pudge, correct me if I am wrong, but you haven't been back in the city since retiring in April. Tell me what it is like to be back and participating.
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: It's great. It is an honor for me always to come to the Motor City. Great fans. I spent four and a half or five years here, very good years, and the fans here, they're unbelievable. They support the team from day one, you know, all the way into the end of the season.
And I look forward to going outside and saying hello to them. They are great fans. I respect them. I respect the organization, the city. And I look forward to it.
Q. Pudge, Alex Avila talked about you sent him a glove when he converted to catcher back in the day. Talk about that decision. Have you done that before?
IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. I always was a person that like to joke to the players, you know, and the teammate, the players can tell you how good of a teammate I am. I am a guy that I like to joke around and have fun in the clubhouse with the guys.
And, you know, that day I think he was in college ‑‑ he was, yeah ‑‑ and Mr. Avila asked me for ‑‑ to see if I can get him a glove, and I told him why not and I would just sign it and give it to him. And he calls me and thanks me. And everything was good.
We know he's going to be a great player, so he is doing a great job, you know, since he came here. I think that he's a very good offensive and defensive catcher, and he has some ‑‑ a lot of good years, you know, left on him and he is going to be good for the organization.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in.