The Dangerous Saga of Carlos Rodriguez

Talent and potential make many of us overlook blemishes on a player. We tolerate attitude, don't blink an eye when they're given preferential treatment and in fact, we lavish them with praise while we look the other way. Sometimes though, our gaze shouldn't be diverted. We need to say simply "enough". Such is the case with Carlos Rodriguez, whose biggest potential may be his potential for being dangerous.

"I've seen him mimic shooting at people and cars," relayed one Phillies staffer. "He makes you feel very uneasy."

These are comments about Carlos Rodriguez. He is officially off of the suspended list, but the Phillies have kept him in extended spring training for now, sort of like what you do with a dog after it bites someone. You quarantine him to check for signs of trouble. With C-Rod, there are definite and distinct signs of trouble.

For the third time since he started his career with the Phillies in 2001, Rodriguez was suspended. This time for throwing a tantrum after being removed from a game when he didn't run out a ground ball. In the past, it's been for "off the field problems" as the Phillies have termed them. The reports - admittedly unconfirmed - have ranged from Rodriguez stealing from teammates to having threatened teammates with violence. "Nobody wants their locker anywhere near Carlos' because he's nuts," said one person, speaking on the condition that his name not be used in the story. "Players are also concerned abuot having their things stolen."

Players and even coaches, hoped that when Rodriguez was suspended this time, that the third strike would be the charm. This time, Rodriguez said he quit. He told the Phillies he was retiring, but again, changed his tune and asked for yet another chance. The Phillies obliged and brought him back into the fold. It's not a popular decision and one source said he's being kept in extended camp because there is so much concern about bringing him back to Clearwater that they're simply trying to figure out what to do with him.

Rodriguez came to the Phillies with a lot of talent and potential. Early on, he was the good soldier and showed that talent. Then, something happened that changed him. After hitting a combined .293 in two short-league seasons, Rodriguez hasn't been the same player. In two injury filled seasons with Lakewood, Rodriguez hit just .238 and his attitude rose as his numbers fell. This season at Clearwater, Rodriguez was hitting just .209 when he was suspended.

If the Phillies mission is to help Carlos Rodriguez, the person, then they need to address that. They also need to figure out whether or not Rodriguez is ready and willing to be helped. After all, the help will only work if it's given to a willing person. By all reports, Rodriguez isn't looking for help. Nobody is quite sure what he's looking for. "He's certainly not happy. He's not the same player that came into this organization," said our source. "Personally, I'm worried about Carlos, but I'm also worried about the people who have to be around him."

It's time to forget about Rodriguez career and focus on the person. At 21, there is plenty of time to help Rodriguez and possibly, resurrect his career down the road after the other issues are settled. The Phillies are playing the role of an enabler and are allowing Rodriguez to call all of the shots as they continue to slap his wrists. Instead, they need to make it perfectly clear - and should have done so long ago - that his behavior won't be tolerated. Rodriguez, no matter how talented or how much potential he shows, should have been cut loose after his latest tantrum and probably even before. This is not a guy that the Phillies can be proud of and he's not a person who should be welcomed in the organization.

The Phillies have a $700,000 signing bonus invested in Rodriguez and while that's not exactly spare change, it needs to be chalked up as lost. Money that wasn't well spent. It can go in the column right next to the big dollars that were given to other young players who, for one reason or another, never panned out. If Rodriguez does make it back to Clearwater or any other team in the organization, he needs to understand that his act has worn too thin. The next time he throws a tantrum or is at the center of any other sort of controversy, will be the last. It's hard to root against a talented young player, but in this case, Rodriguez is not someone to root for at this point in his career and his life.

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