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Rangers’ Rodriguez Late for Camp

February 14, 1998

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) _ The Texas Rangers were a player short when pitchers and catchers reported Friday for the start of spring training.

Missing was All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who is entering the first season of his new five-year, $42 million guaranteed contract.

Rodriguez has told Rangers officials not to expect him to make it for Saturday’s first workout. He called team officials from Puerto Rico on Wednesday to say he needed an extra day to handle a local legal matter.

More worrisome to manager Johnny Oates was Rodriguez’s violation of a pledge to forgo winter ball in the offseason.

Rodriguez played with a Puerto Rican team, including the recent Caribbean World Series in Venezuela. He mostly played designated hitter and first base, although he did catch several times late in the Caribbean season.

``As far as playing the game of baseball, I don’t have any problem with that,″ Oates said. He described the issue as one of principle.

``Pudge and I have talked about it. He knows how I feel about making promises to people, being held accountable for your actions, integrity, being a man of your word, giving your word and standing up to it. He knows where I’m coming from, and I think he and I have a clear understanding of how I feel about that,″ Oates said.

Oates said there will be no repercussions for Rodriguez’s offseason play, nor for his excused absence.

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