Raines, Pudge bound for Cooperstown

January 19th, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Ivan Rodriguez, who played in Washington from 2010-11, will become the first player who played for the Nationals to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after Rodriguez was one of three players named to Cooperstown on Wednesday night.

Rodriguez is not the only player with ties to the franchise elected Wednesday as he will be joined by Tim Raines, who spent most of his career with the Expos. Jeff Bagwell will also be enshrined this July. Vladimir Guerrero, who played the first eight seasons of his career with the Expos, had a strong showing his his first year of eligibility, garnering 71.7 percent of the votes cast.

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Rodriguez was one of the best two-way catchers in MLB history, but he was at the end of his career by the time he joined the Nats, the last team of his 21-year career. Although he only played for 155 games in two seasons with the Nationals, he made an impact in his short time. He caught Stephen Strasburg's Major League debut.

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Rodriguez was with the team in 2011 when outfielder Jayson Werth signed with the team as a free agent. Werth grew up as a catcher and Rodriguez was one of the players he admired. During Spring Training that year, after position players came out of the game they were supposed to run six sprints of about 90-100 feet. Werth was in right field when two players were running, one of them being Rodriguez. Instead of running 90 feet, Rodriguez was sprinting foul pole to foul pole.

"He was on the brink of 40 years old and his effort and grit was still at a Hall of Fame level, doing way more than what was required," Werth said. "The contrast between the two players couldn't have been more glaring. His post-game sprints represented everything that you thought about him: giving everything he had to the game, leaving it all on the field, going far beyond the call of duty -- even in early March and at the end of a storied career."

"He never took the easy way out. My childhood admiration grew that day to an all-time high, matching the respect and integrity that Señor Pudge has for the game of baseball."

Raines was one of the most prolific base stealers in Major League history and was one of the most skilled at reaching base. He was drafted by the Expos and spent his first 13 seasons with the franchise. It took his entire 10-year time on the ballot, but Raines finally made it.

"Tim Raines came into the league and was one of the most exciting, dynamic, rookies in that era," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He loved to play baseball. He was a great dude, and I respected him as one of the guys on the other side, but man he could wreak havoc on a game for the opposition."