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Rangers hire Pudge as special assistant

SURPRISE, Ariz. --- The Rangers have hired former catcher Ivan Rodriguez as a special assistant in the front office. Rodriguez, who won 13 Gold Glove Awards and appeared in 14 All-Star Games during his 21-year Major League career, will work in all areas of the franchise, including baseball, business and community relations.

"This means a lot to me," Rodriguez said in a teleconference on Friday. "I'm very happy to be back in Texas. It feels very nice to be back and be a part of the front office. It's going to be exciting."

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This is not a full-time position, but Rodriguez will do some baseball instruction with players, especially catchers in the farm system. He will also work on the business side with senior executive vice president Jim Sundberg and serve as an ambassador for the franchise. Rodriguez accompanied general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington on their annual visit to the Dominican Republic in January.

"We have a great organization, a lot of good players and a lot of young talent," Rodriguez said. "The talent in the Dominican is unbelievable. I had a great time working with them. When I retired, that's what I did in Miami, working with young guys. My job is to bring the best of my experience to these kids and make them better baseball players."

Rodriguez, signed by the Rangers as an amateur free agent in 1988, played for them from 1991-2002 and again briefly at the end of the 2009 season. He helped the Rangers win division titles in 1996 and 1998-99, and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1999.

He also was the catcher for the Marlins in 2003 when they won the World Series before spending most of the next five seasons with the Tigers. He played in his second World Series with the Tigers in 2006. He played with the Yankees at the end of 2008, the Astros and Rangers in '09 and then finished his career with the Nationals in 2010-11.

The 13 Gold Glove Awards -- 10 coming with the Rangers -- is the most by a catcher. He is also the all-time leader with 2,427 games caught.

"He is probably the best homegrown player in the history of the franchise," Daniels said. "He should be a Ranger. You can tell he has a passion for helping players. He'll be a great resource. He's one of the greatest Rangers of all-time and a future Hall of Famer. He wanted to get back in the game, and it should be with the Rangers."

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