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Rodriguez ready to help Bucs in any way

Veteran utility man hits third spring homer Monday
Special to MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sean Rodriguez has never had 500 at-bats in a Major League season. If this is the year it finally happens, he'll be prepared.

"That's always been the goal," the veteran Rodriguez said, after hitting his third home run in 13 spring at-bats Monday. "I've always prepared for that many, and God willing, I can find that many ABs and see what can happen."

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sean Rodriguez has never had 500 at-bats in a Major League season. If this is the year it finally happens, he'll be prepared.

"That's always been the goal," the veteran Rodriguez said, after hitting his third home run in 13 spring at-bats Monday. "I've always prepared for that many, and God willing, I can find that many ABs and see what can happen."

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In his 10-year Major League career, Rodriguez, 32, has never had more than 373 at-bats in a season, partly because he has never had a full-time position. His career high in at-bats came in 131 games with Tampa Bay in 2011, when he played all four infield positions and left field.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Rodriguez had never shown much power, either, but that began to change in 2016, when he hit 18 home runs in just 300 at-bats for the Pirates. But last season was destroyed by an auto accident in January, after he had signed with Atlanta.

"I was able to figure something out in 2016, then last year was obviously a tough year and a struggle," Rodriguez said. "I was just trying to feel right that whole year, and it just feels good to have a more typical offseason and to take that into Spring Training."

Video: Rodriguez discusses playing hurt last season

Rodriguez was all set to play second base for Atlanta when he signed there. Then came the accident. And shortly after he made it through the rehab and returned to join the Braves, Atlanta traded him back to Pittsburgh. Now, Rodriguez is once again set to take on a super-sub role, playing second base and just about anywhere else on the field.

• Rodriguez at 100 percent

"I think they'll move me around a lot, and I don't mind that at all, as long as I'm playing," he said. "I don't feel uncomfortable at any position."

After leading off the game by flying out to center field and lining out to third base in the third inning, Rodriguez hit a towering home run off Jose Ramirez for the Pirates' first run of Monday's 7-5 loss. It was one of four Pirates homers.

Rodriguez is 5-for-13 (.385) and has scored five runs in five games.

"Rodriguez barreled up three balls today. [Starling Marte] barreled up two balls," noted manager Clint Hurdle. "Pitches up in the zone they took advantage of. We seem to be working our way to a much better place offensively here in the second week of the Spring Training season."

Dick Scanlon is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Monday.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Sean Rodriguez