G-Rod plays major role for RoughRiders

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2013

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By Nathan Barnett

Guilder Rodriguez has seen more RoughRiders games than anyone else on the team’s roster. Other than the coaching staff, a few of the longer-tenured employees, and some of the team’s diehard fans, he has seen the red, white and black RoughRiders take the diamond more than anyone else in the ballpark.

To put it in perspective when the thirteen-year professional signed his first contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, Rangers’ top prospect Jurickson Profar had just turned eight years old. ‘Riders first basemen Brett Nicholas was enjoying the summer before his sixth grade year.

When the season is over, the fifth-year RoughRiders infielder will likely eclipse the 1,000 game mark of his professional career. This year, for the first time in his career, Guilder made an All-Star team, participating as a reserve infielder for the South Division All-Stars.

While he has never played in a major league game, Guilder, or “G-Rod,” as he is known around the clubhouse, has made an indelible impact for the Rangers’ top infield prospects. A coach on the field of sorts, he spends extra time each day helping the younger players take the next step on their path to The Show.

Last season, the 30-year-old Venezuelan, spent extra time each day with the then-21-year-old Dominican infielder Leury Garcia and 19-year-old Curacao-native Profar — both have spent significant time with the Rangers this season.

This year, Guilder has taken 21-year-old Odubel Herrera, a fellow countryman from Venezuela, and the 20-year-old Dominican shortstop Hanser Alberto under his wing. Leaving fundamentals and footwork up to the coaches and Rangers roving instructors, Rodriguez’s guidance is less in fundamentals and footwork and more about the mental approach of the game. 

“I talk with them about attitude, how to understand this game, be ready every day, be on time and act professionally—the things they can control,” explains Guilder. “I talk with them how to represent themselves and the Texas Rangers.”

His outreach doesn’t stop there. 21-year-old Venezuelan catcher Tomas Telis has asked a number of different players over his career to help him warm up by throwing balls in the dirt before games. This year, G-Rod steps up every day, assisting the catcher even on the days he spent on the disabled list in July.  “I don’t know much about catching,” says Guilder, shrugging off the effort he makes. “I just throw the ball to him, and help him with his routine.”

The impact he has had is apparent whenever you talk to Odubel, Hanser, or Tomas about their mentor. Their joking natures transform into seriousness as they speak with reverence.

“He’s a leader. He’s our father—he helps us all a lot,” explains Hanser Alberto with his iconic broad and glowing smile.

Guilder is simply motivated by what he thinks is the right thing to do. 

“When I was young, I never had the older guys come along and help me. They never told me when I did something right or something wrong,” he remembers. 

And like a proud father, he is quick to turn praise of his accomplishments into adulation for his mentees. Odubel and Tomas both made the All-Star team as well this season, and he is seemingly prouder of them than he is about his own achievement.

“I am happier for the young guys who made the roster,” Rodriguez said. “These guys have a big future, and I feel great that I play the same game with these young guys like Herrera, Alberto and Telis.”

He won’t jump out in box scores, dazzle with his range, or show of a cannon of an arm, but the man with just two career home runs is as big a presence on this team as anyone else and will be remembered by those who go on to star in the big leagues for years to come.

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