Eddie Rodriguez had every reason to feel at home Friday as he pitched batting practice to the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
In his first year as the minor league infield coordinator for San Diego, Fort Wayne’s parent club, Rodriguez had circled a Quad-Cities visit on his calendar as one of his visits to the Midwest League club.
“The place has changed, but there are a lot of memories here, walking in and seeing the river and everything,’’ Rodriguez said. “This is where I really got my start in coaching and managing and it’s good to come back for a visit. When I saw the Fort Wayne schedule, coming back here was something I wanted to do and I’m glad I was able to work it out.’’
Rodriguez welcomed the chance to enjoy a couple of lunches at Hungry Hobo during his visit with the TinCaps and reminisced about postgame dinners at the old Ground Round restaurant.
He knew the area well, working as a coach for the Quad-City Angels under Bill Lachemann during the 1985-86 seasons before managing the team from 1987-89.
His 1989 team finished 72-63, the only winning season the Angels had during his tenure and a team which included future major leaguers Ruben Amaro, Kyle Abbott, Chad Curtis, Jim Edmonds and J.R. Phillips.
Rodriguez has been a baseball lifer, reaching the major leagues as a base coach with the Blue Jays in 1998 and later with the Diamondbacks, Expos, Nationals, Mariners and most recently with the Royals from 2010-12.
He earned a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001, was a coach on the United States’ gold medal-winning team in the Sydney Olympics and managed Team USA to a gold medal in the 2009 World Cup.
“Baseball has given me a living and given me a lifetime of memories, helping kids work toward their dreams,’’ Rodriguez said. “I feel very fortunate and I’m enjoying working with the all of the guys in the Padres system as I make my way around to all the teams and get to know them. It’s an enjoyable experience.’’
TOP ARM: Clinton’s Edwin Diaz is this week’s Midwest League pitcher of the week.
Diaz struck out eight batters and scattered three hits over six walk-free shutout innings in the LumberKings’ 5-0 win at Great Lakes on Thursday. The win was his first since May 21.
Tyler Marincov of Beloit was named the Midwest League player of the week.
GOING GREEN: The FieldTurf at South Bend’s Four Winds Field was installed in 2010, but if Silver Hawks owner Andrew Berlin has his way, baseball there will be played again on grass within the next two years.
The proponent of baseball being played on natural grass told the South Bend Tribune that he plans to tear out the artificial surface which was installed at a cost of $750,000 either at the end of the current season or after the 2015 season depending on when financial details can be worked out.
Berlin, who did not own the team when the turf was installed, expects the transition to grass to cost around $500,000.
SMALL WORLD: Among the visitors to Modern Woodmen Park last week was Peter Wermuth, the chief executive officer of the Australian Baseball League.
He was in the Quad-Cities to visit with the Quad-Cities River Bandits owners about the operation of their organization and after completing a dugout conversation, he noticed a familiar face among the coaches working batting practice with Fort Wayne.
Australian-born TinCaps manager Michael Collins manages one of the six teams in the Australian league which begins its season shortly after the season concludes in the United States. The pair exchanged pleasantries before the start of Friday’s game between Quad-Cities and Fort Wayne.
STREAK ENDS: The record-setting string of consecutive games that South Bend shortstop Andrew Velasquez put together came to an end at 74 last Thursday.
Velasquez went 0-for-4 in the Silver Hawks’ 6-3 win over Burlington, four days after breaking the previous minor-league record. It was the first time since an April 19 game against Quad-Cities that Velasquez had not reached base successfully.
FIRST RED: Quad-Cities is getting a look at another of baseball’s first-round picks from the June draft during its ongoing series at Dayton.
Nick Howard, a right-handed pitcher selected by the Reds with the 19th pick in last month’s draft from the University of Virginia, was promoted by Cincinnati to the Midwest League last week. Howard was a closer on the Cavaliers’ College World Series finalist, setting an ACC record with 20 saves.
He earned a win in his Midwest League debut, working one inning of relief for the Dragons in a victory over Beloit.
TODAY: at Dayton, 6 p.m.
FRIDAY: at Dayton, 6 p.m.
SATURDAY: at Bowling Green, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY: at Bowling Green, 2 p.m.
MONDAY: at Bowling Green, noon
TUESDAY: vs. Clinton, 7 p.m. (Jeff Bagwell bobblehead giveaway, Dew for Tuesday 2-for-1 tickets, Kids Eat Free)
WEDNESDAY: vs. Clinton, 7 p.m. (Burlington Trailways River Bandits team photo giveaway, Reynolds Ford Used Car giveaway, Star Wars Night)
TODAY: vs. West Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday beverage discounts, Lyons Business Professional Association Night, Camanche Night)
FRIDAY: vs. West Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (Ed Randall’s Bat for the Cure autographed bat giveaway, postgame fireworks)
SATURDAY: vs. South Bend, 6:30 p.m. (Gateway Chapter of Credit Unions Night, postgame concert by Old Dogs, New Chick)
SUNDAY: vs. South Bend, 2 p.m. (Sterling/Rock Falls Day, Carroll County Day, Family Day, All Faith’s Day)
MONDAY: vs. South Bend, 10 a.m. (Pack the Park with Kids Day)
TUESDAY: at Quad-Cities, 7 p.m.
WEDNESDAY: at Quad-Cities, 7 p.m.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: Home runs hit by Cedar Rapids’ Mitch Garver in the Kernels’ 8-1 win over Fort Wayne on Monday
4: Midwest League record for homers in a game, a shared record last set by Garrett Jones of Quad-Cities in a 2002 game against Kane County
COMING TO THE Q-C
AARON BARBOSA: Has hit .359 for Clinton over his last 10 games. Signed by the Mariners as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Barbosa has batted .309 in the 42 games he has played for Clinton since being reassigned from high-A High Desert in the California League.
JACK REINHEIMER: A fifth-round pick of Seattle from East Carolina in 2013, the Clinton shortstop is batting .259 for the season but he leads active players on the LumberKings roster with 91 hits, four triples, 40 RBI and 29 stolen bases.
Jon Jay has been one of the top five hitters in the major leagues over the last week of competition, batting .500 for the Cardinals. The outfielder has hit .294 through 86 games this season for St. Louis.
Jay made his professional debut with Quad-Cities in 2006, batting .342 over 60 games and driving in 45 runs after being picked by St. Louis in the second round of that year’s draft.