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Sweet Redemption for MVP Rodriguez

October 16, 2003|From Associated Press

Ivan Rodriguez sat home last winter, waiting for phone calls that never came. He was supposedly too old, too injury-prone for teams to risk the big money he wanted.

His hometown Florida Marlins finally took a chance on him, and he has been worth every penny. And then some.

Rodriguez was named MVP of the NL championship series on Wednesday night after driving in his NLCS-record 10th run and scoring twice as the Marlins advanced to the World Series with a 9-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 at Wrigley Field.

"I'm very happy for my team. Nobody expected us to be in the World Series," Rodriguez said. "There you go. We're going to be there in a couple days."

It's the first trip to the World Series for the 10-time All-Star catcher, who was let go by Texas last year in a cost-cutting move. And it's sweet redemption for Rodriguez, who toyed with the idea of playing overseas when he drew little interest as a free agent. He didn't sign with the Marlins until the end of January, a few weeks before spring training.

And though the Marlins were young, Rodriguez made a bold prediction.

"When they signed me, when I did the press conference, I said this team would have enough talent to be in the playoffs," Rodriguez said the day before the NLCS began. "And look at where we are."

They certainly wouldn't be here without him. Rodriguez has at least one hit in each of the Marlins' 11 postseason games, and an RBI in nine of them.

His 10 RBIs in the NLCS broke the record of nine set by San Francisco's Matt Williams in 1989. He now has 16 RBIs in the postseason, breaking the Florida franchise record of 15 set by Moises Alou in 1997, when the Marlins won the World Series.

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Right-hander Carl Pavano pitched well Tuesday in his first start in 2 1/2 weeks, and he figures he'll stay in the rotation for the World Series.

"I kind of would expect a shot to start now, to tell you the truth," he said.

Pavano limited the Cubs to two runs in 5 2/3 innings in Game 6. He had a 12-13 record during the regular season but was bumped to the bullpen when Florida went with a four-man rotation for the playoffs.

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