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July 13, 2017

Pudge Rodriguez

Damon Goddard

Stateline, Nevada

THE MODERATOR: Special guests for us today, Pudge Rodriguez, being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 30th.

Pudge will now be among 12 or 13 Hall of Famers of various sports we have here at the American Century Championship. And we have Damon Goddard, Pudge's personal trainer. And he also works with Jordan Spieth.

Pudge, tell us about your anticipation of the upcoming Hall of Fame induction in a few weeks.

PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: It's going to be only two weeks to get there. And it's going to be exciting. I'm a little nervous, obviously. I'm not going to lie.

But it's going to be great. I can't wait to be there already. I'm going to be there a week early, and I'm going to enjoy every single moment of it. It's great to be there.

It's only one time in life you can be there and enjoy all the activities. It's going to be great to be there. And just be on that stage on the Sunday at noon with all The Hall of Famers behind me, it's going to be a great moment.

Q. You've been pretty busy since you stopped playing golf. We know you have a new book out "They Call Me Pudge: My Life Playing the Game I Love." We also know you've got a coffee company, Pudge's Coffee, is your new brand of Puerto Rican coffees. Tell us how you got into this.
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Well, I'm going to start with the book, the book "They Call Me Pudge" obviously is a book that is going to be starting from the beginning of my life, my baseball career, my baseball life since seven years old until I get the call of the Hall of Fame.

It's going to be good, exciting. It's going to be pictures of me when I was a little kid with my parents, and just everything's going to be about through my career, the difficulties of coming from Latin America and learn the language, those kind of things.

So people sometimes doesn't know for us as Latin people is one of the hardest obstacles you've got to go through is to learn it. The book is going to be fun and come October in English, and September 1st it's going to be in Spanish, it's going to be in both languages.

And the coffee is always an idea that I have. I'm a coffee drinker. I drink coffee all the time. And I decided to do a business at it. The coffee is going to be 100 percent Puerto Rican coffee. The farm is very close to where I grew up and we're going to start producing it and be on the market coming next month. So excited for that too.

Q. Do you have your speech ready for Cooperstown?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, the speech is ready. It's not going to be long. I think it's going to be a bunch of thank yous, obviously. 21-year career in baseball. I have to thank a lot of people.

I hope I'm -- I hope I don't miss anybody. But the ones that I miss they know who they are, obviously.

As far as the time they give us to do the speech, which is eight to ten minutes, unfortunately sometimes you cannot mention everybody.

But at the same time it's going to be a lot of thank yous, the family is going to be right there. I hope I don't see them starting the speech, because if I see them I'm going to start crying right away, and I'm going to try to hold that as much as I can, even though it's going to happen.

But it's going to be fun. It's going to be a great Sunday and can't wait to be there.

Q. You are a 13-time Gold Glover, 14-time All-Star, 99 American League Most Valuable Player. You mentioned how much catching you did, I think more games than any other catcher in baseball history, over 2600. How are the knees holding up?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: It's holding up because guys like this one right here (referring to Damon Goddard). When you prepare yourself and you take care of yourself and not only just practice the game of baseball, you have to do a lot of other things to keep yourself in shape.

I did that through my whole career. I have a great discipline in the gym and the track, just preparing myself physically to play every day. Also rest and eat right is very important. I think Damon can tell you about that, how important that is.

He works for one of the best golfers in the game of baseball and you guys know how good of shape he is in. And it's very important.

I think as an athlete, when you take care of yourself and you work day in, day out, at least five days a week, everything else, it comes easy. And that's what I did through my career.

Ability is always going to be there. But stay in shape, stay in shape and try to be better every year, put better numbers every year, you have to work hard and you have to prepare yourself physically to do that.

Q. That's a pretty good segue to you, Damon. Damon is a frequent guest on the PGA TOUR radio's Golf Talk America, considered one of the leading experts in golf performance conditioning and currently works with the host of PGA and Web.com and LPGA players. Talk to us what you're doing with Pudge here.
DAMON GODDARD: Aside from keeping all the pieces together, he alluded a second ago about the longevity of the career and importance of keeping fitness as the mainstay in his career.

But more so now, it's just about recovery. And being able to maintain the machine, via sleep and reducing stress and also keeping discipline on the daily regimen with fitness. But I think now at this point he's had a very long career, and so you go, okay, well, let's see if we can just keep the machine rolling.

And there's a lot of transference with baseball and golf. You're able to go play golf and rotations, rotations, rotations. So it's kind of fun now to be able to transition the baseball side of the rotation now into the golf world.

And heck he's playing a lot more golf now and trying to keep him smooth running on that. But it is an instant translation from the baseball to the golf side in terms of rotation and the body's movement is very similar.

PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: He's keeping me young, that's what he's doing.

DAMON GODDARD: Look at the guy.

Q. As far as golf, how much do you think that's going to help bring down the handicap?
DAMON GODDARD: For sure. Sequence is sequence. And you take a look at his swing, what was it, a couple nights ago, over in Miami. It's a beautiful swing.

So there's going to be obviously a little bit of difference between the baseball and the golf side. But we're already starting off with a good platform.

PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Working out is important. The golf swing is a little different, obviously. It's kind of like -- people say it's pretty similar to baseball, but it's really not.

Because in baseball you have to stay inside out of the baseball to hit the ball the other way. If you do that in golf, you're going to hit the ball to the right, out of bounds.

And our job -- well, what I'm fighting now, I always keep working on, is to use this hand over the left and pull it and thinking like I'm pulling the ball over third base's head. So when I do that, that's when the ball goes where I want it.

So it's been a good challenge, because the swing is there. But just this little thing in golf it can make you a better golfer.

Q. It's famous now, I think, when you got the call that you cried. You just talked about how you're going to cry some more. You're a big, thick, stocky guy, got beat up a lot as a catcher. Are you naturally a crier?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: That's why they call me Pudge. (Laughter).

Yeah, I have always been like that. I'm not a tall guy. I'm only 5'9". And I think 5'9" helps me in my career, believe it or not as a catcher.

And you see a lot of guys -- a lot of catchers they're over six foot, 6'1", 6'2", they go through a lot of injuries because they're taller.

But again, I go back through my work ethic that I have in my career, just prepare myself, stay shape, just make sure that I am in shape enough to play over 130, 140 games that I played when I was playing in my baseball career.

So if you think of it, it's a lot of games that you gotta go and play and be ready, come to the ballpark every day, early, start to do a bunch of things and then go play nine innings.

Especially in Texas, I played 12 years in Texas in 108, 110-degree weather. To do that, you have to be physically strong to do that and have a good discipline at home as far as eating and take care of yourself, rest, all that, all that has to come into place.

Q. Was it like that in Florida?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: It's pretty much similar. I think Florida is more muggy, more humid. Texas is hot. I mean anywhere -- anywhere in the summertime is hot.

Q. Any particular reason you chose to end your career in Miami?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Well, when I played in 2003 -- when I played in 2003 I played for just one year because I was a free agent, and they need a catcher, very simple they need a catcher that they didn't sign anybody else.

They thought that my experience as a catcher helps the young pitching staff that we have that year. And basically that's what I did.

When you mention guys like Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, A.J. Burnett, those guys at the time was 19-, 20-year-old kids.

They brought me up for a reason. And the year before they was having the ERA like almost over 3, almost 4, and then following year I bring the ERA down almost two points. So I think that's probably what the reason that they brought me in, just to work with the pitching staff.

Q. Veteran leadership to the rookie staff?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: I'm guessing.

Q. So to follow up, you mentioned you're physically strong. Is it easy for you to get emotional at times when you have really big moments in your life, like when you got the call to the Hall?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Obviously, yes. I mean, I'm a human being like everybody else. Obviously I have some situations in my life I get emotional, obviously. I play the game hard. When you play the game hard and you get an award, you get emotional, Gold Gloves, MVPs.

When we win in 2003, there's a bunch of pictures you see I was jumping with Josh Beckett and I was crying right there, obviously.

And it's not really crying, it's just the feeling of, okay, I had a good year, I have a great year and I did my job. And when things like that happen, why not?

Q. As a catcher, you've been hit by a baseball in probably every square inch of your body. Did you ever cry from getting hit?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: No, I get mad. (Laughter).

Q. And who is going to induct you?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Jane. Jane, the president of Cooperstown. This year she decides to do it. Before you bring your personal guy.

But Mrs. Forbes decided this year to introduce all of us. I'm guessing because probably Bud Selig is going to be inducted. So probably she made that decision just to do us five.

Q. You've had a great career. You've got a ringer as a golf coach for that. You wrote a book, going into The Hall of Fame and you've got a bag of coffee out. What are you going to do after lunch? What else is going on with your life after this?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Just continue to work. I'm still only 45 years old. Still a lot of life ahead. I'm very hyper as a person. I cannot sit at home not doing nothing. I get bored when I'm at home.

I'm humbled to tell you that I met a lot of great people in my life. And those people that I met in my life, some of them, they're businesspeople, and I did some great things with them.

The coffee is one. I'm doing other businesses that is doing very good. And I'm going to continue. I'm going to continue doing the best that I can just to continue doing things in life.

I still believe that I still have, you know, 20 some more years of me working in other things. Yeah, I'm retired, but I'm retired on baseball, but I don't feel like I'm retired. I'm still young to say to myself you're retired. Yeah, I'm retired from baseball, but I'm doing all this stuff that I want to continue to do.

And I work for the Rangers. I'm one of the assistants for Jon Daniels, the GM. I work for Fox. I do pre and post game. I do 70-some games for them for the year.

Now I'm doing a deal with Fox 1 in Spanish. So I'm going to be televising national games in Spanish for Fox. So as long as I can fly, I'm not bored, I don't get tired of flying, I'll be all over the place.

Q. There's a thinking process up here about quarterbacks and skill position players, pitchers, that are able to dominate Edgewood and this tournament. But the catcher position is, you're the quarterback basically on the field. And you probably have to do more thinking as a catcher than any player.

Q. So now that you have this ringer of a coach, what do you expect your process to the championship is going to be? Are you going to realistically set your sights on winning this thing?
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: Well, as always everybody is thinking to win, obviously. I'm going to be doing my best to just play my game. There's a lot of good players out there, especially Mark Mulder, he's been winning for the last two years, and believe it or not, we are celebrities, but we compete.

We compete out there. We're not doing it just for the fun of it. There's going to be people that are going to have fun. There's going to be celebrities that are going to play seriously. I'm one of the guys that play the golf seriously. And I'm going to do my best to have a good weekend. So I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Damon, Pudge has a different body type than Jordan Spieth. How do you figure out what's best for each?
DAMON GODDARD: Everything that we base our programs off of are an assessment protocol that each individual athlete gets a custom program. Obviously Pudge is Pudge. He's a big, thick guy, now to be able to take advantage of that size and build better rotation and build longevity with that is crucial.

Now, Jordan, taller guy, I've been working with him since he was about 15 years old. And so it's a little bit different from seeing his progress as a teenager all the way to, what are we at, 23 right now. So that's been fun.

So it's different perspectives, but you take a guy like Jordan, and you have to take advantage of where you're at right now developmentally and with his golf game, there's two different animals, the baseball and the golf. There's different energy demands. So there's a lot that actually goes into building each athlete.

But the idea is really with a Pudge and with a Jordan, you know when Pudge's baseball career is just to get them to recover faster. There's really good ways to do that using fitness as a great tool rather than as just pure discipline.

Q. We also have two guys there that seems to me have really strong intellects when it comes to both their sports. And I gotta think that plays big into this.
DAMON GODDARD: No doubt you take guys like Pudge, you mentioned earlier, he's the quarterback, and Jordan, the intellect and the knowledge they seek just simply for their pursuit in their game but they want to learn more so about the body. And which speaks to the thirst for a lot more knowledge.

And give me any athlete that wants to know more of the why, why am I doing what I'm doing, and I'll work with them anyway. And just for the simple fact they start to understand in their swing or in their position play or whatever what is going on, how can I best take advantage of it.

So it's unique to play or to work with these athletes that have that thirst for knowledge.

Q. One more about Pudge, I think you know this better than he does, do you know what he's weighing these days?
DAMON GODDARD: Let's say his pants are fitting. What's funny is with a lot of my athletes, I don't get concerned with weight. I get concerned with function, how well are you feeling.

So there's a lot of subjective things that we'll get back from the athlete. Weight in my mind, it's ir relative.

Q. I want to be able to describe him to the audience. He's not overweight but he's thick.
PUDGE RODRIGUEZ: He's a great -- he's Pudge. He's a thick athlete. And that's what he alluded to earlier in the interview is you take a guy like that, and I think that's why he had such a long career for the simple fact he was taking advantage of his build, right? So you've got guys with really long levers, they open themselves up with a propensity for injury sometimes.


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