Rangers find some mound help with Rodriguez

By Josh Boyd

July 18, 2003

The Rangers pulled the trigger on their third deal of the month on Friday. Rather than dumping more salary, they addressed their other main objective by adding pitching. Texas sent Ryan Ludwick to the Indians for Ricardo Rodriguez and Shane Spencer.

This marks the second consecutive year that Rodriguez, a 25-year-old righthander, has been involved in a deadline deal. In 2002, the Dodgers used him to pry Paul Shuey loose from Cleveland. Rodriguez appeared to be one of the building blocks in the Indians rotation after breaking camp as the No. 2 starter. A promising start to the season (2-2, 3.32 in April) turned sour, however, and he went on the disabled list with a groin injury after getting knocked out in the second inning against the Royals on July 1. Rodriguez also has annoyed teammates and opponents alike with his antics on the mound, not to mention his involvement in several beanball incidents. He throws a lively fastball into the mid-90s, along with a hard slider and changeup. Rodriguez went 3-9, 5.73 in 15 starts with Cleveland, with 89 hits (including 16 homers), 28 walks and 41 strikeouts in 82 innings. He’s 5-11, 5.71 in 22 big league starts over the last two years.

Ludwick, 25, was an Athletics second-round pick in 1999 out of Nevada-Las Vegas. Traded to Rangers in January 2002 as part of a six-player trade revolving around Carlos Pena, he made his big league debut last season but also suffered a career-threatening hip injury. He batted .303-17-63 in 81 games at Triple-A Oklahoma before being promoted on July 3. Ludwick went 4-for-26 for the Rangers, and now has big league totals of .215-1-9 in 31 games. He’s a power hitter with a decent eye at the plate, and he’s also an outstanding defensive outfielder with a strong arm. Ludwick will have to battle Crisp and Gerut for at-bats on the outfield corners.

Spencer, 31, signed a one-year contract with the Indians in January after spending the first 13 years of his pro career with the Yankees, who nontendered him after the 2002 season. He made a Kevin Maas-like impact in the Bronx during his late-1998 big league debut, hitting .373-10-27 in just 67 at-bats. He struggled to hold a full-time job afterward, but served New York as a part-timer who was a power threat, especially against lefthanders, as well as a competent defender with an accurate arm. He was hitting .271-8-26 for Cleveland, but the Indians opted to give opportunities to younger outfielders such as Coco Crisp and Jody Gerut. Spencer has career totals of .264-51-193 in 409 games.