BRADENTON -- Sean Rodriguez is a man for all reasons.
The checklist of why you want to have the guy on your ballclub is endless, according to Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington.
Rodriguez's value to a team cannot be determined in the traditional way. He's more of a guy who passes the eyeball test.
In the end, Rodriguez can make the manager enjoy his sleep better at night and get some veterans a little rest that might make them more productive.
You won't know how many points he adds to a teammate's batting average, but you know he played a role.
He was one of those guys manager Joe Maddon called a super utility player when they were together with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Rodriguez joined the Pirates last season, and without the DH rule in the National League he wasn't sure how much playing time he would get. But it turned out he got more than expected and was invaluable to the Pirates, particularly as a late-inning replacement at first base for Pedro Alvarez.
"We didn't realize how good a player he could be at first base, and his bat is always a threat," Huntington says.
Alvarez is gone, John Jaso is here, and for Rodriguez that means he could wind playing the way the club envisioned when it originally signed him.
Last season with the Pirate, Rodriguez appeared in 102 games at first base, eight at third, seven at second and three at shortstop. He also put in 29 games at the corner-outfield spots. In his eight-year big league career, he has played every position but pitcher and catcher though he was a backup catcher for the Rays.
Expect more to come, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle declared.
"We hope to get him to play more in our overall team defense," Hurdle said. "We used him in different spots last year, and he played well. He really settled in at first base, and we believe there is more of a little bit there (with his hitting) than we were able to get out of him. We are working toward that."
Rodriguez was surprised when the Rays traded him to Pittsburgh last year, and it took time to get settled, but once he found a groove, he fit right in.
"Everything is a lot more comfortable now. My posi
tion in the National League is probably better for me because I can get plugged in at any point in the game, especially on the double switch," Rodriguez said.
The native of Miami, who turns 31 in April, has always found a way to endear himself to his manager because of his toughness and dedication.
"He plays with passion and is hungry to prove that he is a good fit for our club. He is a good player and a good team man. He is a huge part of us," Hurdle said.
Rodriguez might have surprised some people with his hitting down the stretch last season when he batted .349 in August and .321 in September going a combined 24-71. Huntington said that was particularly impressive because of his role.
"He was a late-inning defensive replacement so typically he is facing better relievers, and in close games it means they are going to their set up guy and closer," Huntington said. "It's a very hard role to play, and you are not getting consistent at-bats. He works hard and continues to refine his hitting."
In many ways, Rodriguez's emergence as a super utility player goes back to his Little League days when his dad would put him at a position that best helped the team, though he would've been more suited for another position and was often the best for that position.
"I am just doing whatever I can to get more of an opportunity and help the team anyway I can. To be part of a team that won 90-plus games last year was fulfilling," Rodriguez said.
Energy and passion are the words most often used to describe Rodriguez, who signed a one-year deal for a reported $2.5 million and is expected to play a bigger role this season.
"We like the threat of his bat; we need to do what we can do help Sean become a little more consistent," Huntington said.
Alan Dell, Herald columnist/writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.