Milwaukee Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez made news this week by sustaining one of the silliest injuries of the spring: he’s missed several days because he stepped on a cactus with his bare foot.
Rodriguez was once an elite closer for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, setting a record with 62 saves in 2008 and finishing in the top 10 in both the American League Cy Young and MVP Award voting.
That winter, Rodriguez signed a three-year, $37 million free agent contract with the New York Mets. He represented the Mets in the All-Star Game in 2009 and generally had a good year, though his personality was not always appreciated.
Those negative elements came to greater focus in 2010, first when Rodriguez got into a shouting match with bullpen coach Randy Niemann and then when the Mets’ closer was arrested and charged with assaulting his girlfriend’s father following a loss. Rodriguez eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of anger management classes and a fine.
In 2011, the Mets traded Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers, where he was used as John Axford’s setup man. He hasn’t been a closer since then. After being traded to the Baltimore Orioles last July, Rodriguez re-signed with the Brewers this winter.
In 2000 and 2001, Royal Rookies produced sets of baseball cards that were not licensed by Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball, filled with a selection of minor league prospects. While there are some players of note who made the checklist, the quality of photos, lack of logos and general design keeps the Royal Rookies cards from being popular with most collectors.
On the bright side, that meant Rodriguez’s autograph (“limited” to #4,950 copies) was less expensive than his certified autograph cards in MLB-licensed sets. His signature on the Royal Rookies cards is also more legible some of his later certified autographs. This one cost me $12.20 from COMC.com in 2012 and removed a player I’m not very fond of from my Mets All-Time Roster autograph project wantlist.
You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @Paul_Hadsall on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.