Sunday, March 4, 2012
Nerio Rodriguez, 1997 Stadium Club #267
After a full season at AAA in 1997, Nerio got a September callup to Baltimore and again got knocked around a bit, but earned his first two big league wins: One in relief on September 20 and a start three days later in Toronto. In the latter, he beat Roger Clemens, who was seeking his 22nd win for the Blue Jays. He wound up being dealt to the Jays the following summer for veteran pitcher Juan Guzman, and was hit hard in short stints in Toronto in 1998 and 1999. His only other major league experience came in 2002, when he threw in a game for the Indians and in two more for the Cardinals. Believe it or not, Rodriguez was still an active player as of 2011, when he appeared in 16 games for two teams in the Mexican League. Judging from his 7.64 ERA, his best days may be behind him. But he did have a few standout seasons south of the border late last decade, including a 17-3 record and a 2.54 ERA for the Acereros de Monclova in 2008.
His Mexican exploits are all well and good, but Rodriguez's lasting legacy may be his status as the only "Nerio" to ever play Major League Baseball. There have only been two other players with that name in affiliated pro ball, and the only active one is shortstop Nerio Rios, who is still in rookie ball in the Phillies organization.