Rodriguez Still Adjusting

Rodriguez Still Adjusting

The infielder spent most of the season at the Mets' minor league complex working on the finer points of his game. After a brief stint with Savannah, he was called to Brooklyn for the stretch run. Inside Pitch spoke with Joaquin Rodriguez to see how he has progressed.

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After spending most of the season hitting under the Mendoza line, Cyclones utility man Joaquin Rodriguez has started to become a bigger contributor in the Brooklyn offensive attack, hitting .417 since the All-Star break and exactly .300 in his last ten games.

Hoping to prove that his .292 season at Kingsport last year was no fluke, Rodriguez has been happy to find himself in the starting lineup as much as he has been lately and hopes to continue to produce consistently.

"It's been fun here winning and being able to contribute," said Rodriguez, who is currently hitting .258 with 10 RBI in 62 at-bats. "I started off really slow and right now I feel like I'm starting to get in a little bit of a groove. I'll tell you this much, I feel a lot better than I did earlier in the season when I wasn't playing so well. I think my numbers show that too. I've been seeing the ball better over the last few weeks; maybe I was a little overanxious, I don't know. I started off really slow, but I'm happy with the way things have come around lately."

Playing in two games with Brooklyn last season, Rodriguez was nothing like the calm and collected infielder he is now. Believing the hands-on coaching style of Edgar Alfonzo has made him a better player and one that always has to be responsible for his mistakes on the field; Rodriguez understands how important it is to always stay focused out there.

"Last year, I was really nervous playing here," said Rodriguez, who didn't have a hit in two at bats with the Cyclones last season. "I remember falling down trying to get over to a bunted ball. This year, I feel like I have some more experience and things have just been easier for me. George [Greer, Cyclones manager last season] was a really laid back guy and Fonzie is really intense. If you don't get it done, he'll get on you. I think that has made a big difference in my game."

While getting his offensive game together has been a struggle for the 22-year-old, the usual middle-infielder was forced to play first base for a while after the injury of catcher Jordan Abruzzo pushed Jason Jacobs back behind the plate. Not comfortable playing the position, but wanting to get into the lineup, Rodriguez has tried his hardest to make the most of his time there and has gotten consistently better as the season has wore on.

"This is the first time since I was about seven years old playing first base, so there was a lot of pressure originally," said Rodriguez. "I've made some mistakes out there this year and all I can do is try and learn from them and make myself a better player. Overall though, I think I've done a pretty good job."

However, while he's still getting acclimated to first base, Rodriguez does play on doing several things this offseason to prepare himself to play the position again, proving just how dedicated he is in getting to the next level.

"I'm really looking to improve my foot work and flexibility this offseason," said the six foot four, 175-pound Rodriguez. "I'm going to be taking salsa lessons and yoga classes to improve my defensive play at first. I've heard from some guys that it's a great way of doing that, so I'm going to mix that in with some sprinting and weightlifting. Even if I don't play first again in my life, I think that stuff will definitely help me wherever I play."

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