DETROIT – The sign in Comerica Park that kept count of Miguel Cabrera’s home runs showed 498. The expectation for the search for the 500 was rising when fellow Venezuelan Eduardo Rodríguez took the mound there for the Red Sox one Wednesday night in August.
“It was fun,” Rodríguez recalled, “because it was me and (also Venezuelan) Martín Pérez pitching one after the other. We talked to Miguel and we said, ‘We love you a lot and all that, it’s part of the game, but I don’t want to be the 500’. We joke with him all those days. “
Rodriguez allowed no runs that night, shutting the Tigers in six innings with four walks and 10 strikeouts. His first five outs were with strikeouts hitting him, including Cabrera with a well-placed fastball in the far upper corner of the strike zone.
A few months later, as Tigres general manager Al Avila and manager AJ Hinch prepared their best speeches to convince free agents to play in Detroit, one of the people who spoke with Rodríguez was Cabrera.
“Really, we’re really good friends,” Rodríguez said, “and he started talking to me about everything about Detroit, how things are here and all that. He told me about how special the relationship is with the organization and with the team. And now I would like to be part of that.
And when Cabrera reaches his next personal milestone with his 3,000th career hit sometime this coming season, Rodriguez will be in the Tigres’ dugout, a teammate with a front row seat to watch that story. And after signing a five-year contract, Rodriguez will also have a chance to make history in Detroit as the Tigers try to compete again.
“We always said we had to accommodate the pitching and this is a step in that direction,” Hinch said. “In short, he is a winner. When you go out to pitch, you give your team a chance to win the game, which is what you ask of a pitcher every five days. If you look at what he has done, his track record, how he prepares, his arsenal, his competitiveness, durability, ability to get opponents to fan the breeze, the smooth rollings they give him, there is nothing you don’t see well about him.
“He is someone who, upon arrival, immediately improves our rotation. That is what excites us ”.
“I see everything they have here. I see the way they have started to rebuild the team and prepare to win championships, ”added Rodríguez. “And part of that was the story, Miguel, and asking about everything, about the organization and all that.
“They want to be a team that fights for a championship and I want to be part of that. I want to be part of that rebuilding and help them however I can. So I decided to come to Detroit. “