Mark Rodrigues has been battling arm problems for several years now.
But that hasn’t stopped him from pitching and it didn’t stop major leagues teams from signing him, three times.
He was first drafted as a draft and follow, right after high school in 2001, to the Montreal Expos and then again in 2002 to the Oakland Athletics.
Just last week, Rodrigues decided not to wait for the MLB draft and signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Indians.
“As a sixth-year senior, I figured my chances of being drafted weren’t that high,” he said. “So when they called I took the first opportunity I had to sign.”
The Indians signed him Sunday, May 27, right after Hawai‘i’s season ended.
“We’ve scouted him since he was in high school,” said Indians cross checker Paul Cogan. “We’ve had so much success with Hawaiian players that we wanted to give him a try.”
Rodrigues, 24, started playing baseball with the Koloa Youth Baseball Association when he was 6 years old. He knew early on that he wanted a career in the major leagues. But for some reason, the Kaua‘i High School graduate doubted his abilities.
“In high school, I never thought I had major league talent,” he said. “When I was being scouted I was pretty surprised.”
He went on to play college baseball at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, Calif., for two years before transferring to the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. While there, he redshirted two years because of his arm.
“I chose UH because it was close to home and they broadcast our games here,” he said. “I wanted my parents to be able to watch me play on television.”
This past season, he was granted an extra year of availability to play.
It was a good final season for him, too, as he held a 9-3 record and kept Hawai‘i 13-4 in his 17 total starts.
He held a 3.41 ERA in 95.0 innings, striking out 39 with only 10 walks, one complete game and one combined shutout.
He claims his performance against Arizona State as one of his best games.
The left-handed Rodrigues allowed no runs on three hits with no walks in 7.0 innings, striking out four to get the win. That earned him Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.
In April, Rodrigues was awarded the Jack Bonham Award, an award named after the late assistant athletic director. It is handed out to a male and female student athlete who exemplifies athletic excellence, academic achievements, a dedication to public services, good character and leadership abilities.
Rodrigues majored in sociology and minored in American studies.
Rodrigues is currently vacationing in Las Vegas.
“I’m just hanging out and trying to soak up the moment,” he said.
Rodrigues is set to report for a baseball mini-camp for the Indians in two weeks. He hopes to have a long career in the major leagues.
“Hopefully, if my arm holds up,” he said.
Family: Parents Caridad and Julio Rodrigues, brother Michael.
Rodrigues sounds off on:
His last season at UH: “It was kind of an up and down season. I used to try to get by everyone with fastballs. The coaches at UH did a good job in helping me with my arm and my pitching. I try to focus more on composure.”
What he does when he’s back in town: “I go to where I like to eat. I go to Sueoka’s, Hamura’s Saimin, Puka Dog and the Koloa Fish Market.”
What he’s doing now: “I’m in Vegas right now, just trying to soak up the moment before I have to go away to the mini camps.”
His favorite baseball player: “Roger Clemens. I wear the number 22, I’ve always worn the number 22. I even have a chain with the number 22 that I wear. I think it’s good (that he’s still playing in the major leagues). He still works hard.”
• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or firstname.lastname@example.org.