Injury puts Dawgs MVP in front office

Baseball: T Rod an intern with organization this summer

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 06:00 am

Dawgs 2013 MVP Thomas Rodrigues will be an intern with the organization after suffering a shoulder injury on Valentine’s Day.
Dawgs 2013 MVP Thomas Rodrigues will be an intern with the organization after suffering a shoulder injury on Valentine’s Day.
Wheel file photo

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The Okotoks Dawgs 2013 MVP is proof a good athlete needs an education to fall back on in case something goes awry.

This summer, Thomas ‘T-Rod’ Rodrigues, will be slinging tickets and grabbing phones as a summer intern rather than swinging for the fences and snaring hot groundballs due to an injury while playing with his college team.

“I’m a front-office assistant,” Rodrigues said. “I will do anything from answering phones, selling tickets to marketing and to getting the stadium ready for game day — interacting with the fans and things like that.”

It’s a perfect fit — Rodrigues will graduate with a sports management degree from Niagara University in New York in May.

Rodrigues was penned into the meat of the Dawgs 2104 batting order until injuring his shoulder prior to his Niagara Purple Eagles taking on the Florida State Seminoles on Valentine’s Day.

He kissed his season goodbye.

“Before the first game against Florida State, I felt a pop in my arm and I literally told myself I think I tore my labrum,” Rodrigues said. “I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t throw the ball 10 feet. I had torn my labrum.”

He had surgery two weeks later and was red-shirted for Niagara’s season.

It also kyboshed any plans to return for the Dawgs for his third season — at least to play.

He had talked to Okotoks Dawgs media relations manager Ethan Green about working with the team’s office on a part-time basis prior to the injury to help with his sports management career.

After the injury, he was informed the Dawgs were looking for a summer intern.

However, just like cracking the Dawgs’ line-up, Rodrigues had to earn the spot.

“I sent them a résumé and I had a Skype interview with Ethan and Pablo (Dawgs operation manager Pablo Forno) and I was in my suit,” Rodrigues said with a chuckle. “It was weird because we have always been joking around when I was a player.”

And what a player he has been with the Dawgs.

Rodrigues led the Western Major Baseball League in hitting at .394 last season. He also had five home runs and 30 RBI, while shoring up the Dawgs middle infield at second and shortstop.

Rodrigues was known for being one of the hardest working Dawgs in the weight room and the batting cage as a player. That won’t change much — what better place than the best baseball facilities in Alberta to rehab?

“I thought this would be the perfect place to get some experience and get some rehab with the great facilities he had,” the 22-year-old Rodrigues said. “I have to do my job first, but after that I am sure me using the cages, the weights to get back in shape.

“I think I can start doing baseball related drills in about mid June… I’m just going to take it one step at a time.”

The hardest part of his job could be watching the Dawgs take the field for a run at the Western Major Baseball League pennant.

“It sucks now, watching my teammates (at Niagara) get on the bus to play and I know it will be exactly the same when I get to Okotoks,” Rodrigues said. “It’s not easy but I get to watch the game from a different perspective and I have actually learned a few things.”

Forno said hiring Rodrigues was a non-brainer.

“He knows this organization so well after being here the past two years,” Forno said.

Rodrigues is expected to be with the Dawgs at the end of May. He plans to play his last year with the Purple Eagles in the fall. He is studying to get his masters in sports management at Niagara.


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