Rookie outfielder John Rodriguez wasn't even in the Cardinals organization until midseason, and even after a trade to St. Louis he wasn't on the 40-man roster. Yet an amazing month at Triple-A Memphis, combined with injuries on St. Louis' big league squad, led to an opportunity for Rodriguez to play in the Majors for the first time. Rodriguez is checking in with MLB.com throughout the playoffs to share his experiences with readers in his first taste of the Major League playoffs.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez shared his thoughts on the impending National League Championship Series and the Cards' days off after winning the Division Series.
Now it's a different story. For the Division Series, we thought about San Diego only. Now we're thinking about Houston. We know there's a good team on the other side -- good pitching, good hitting, good veterans and their rookies are good, too. It's just like our team.
It's going to be a great matchup. Tomorrow we're going to go to war. That's all I can say, is we're going to go to war. I'm looking forward to every bit of it. I've got to get ready for the late innings. I'm almost positive our pitchers are going to go all the way, which means I might not get a chance to hit. But if I do, I'll be ready. But like I said, tomorrow is a war and we've just got to be ready for battle.
There's nothing different about this round. We have to go in there with the same mentality, that we have to take Game 1, go to the next game and we've got to take Game 2. There's no giving games away over here. If we go out there and have any little doubt, they'll take advantage of it. We can't let any chances go by. We have to execute in every way -- defense, offense, pitching. Everything has been great, so we just have to keep it up.
I don't think about it like the World Series is right in front of us. My attitude this year is not to put pressure on myself. Of course it's a big game, but I just see it as another baseball game. Just go out there and have fun, because whatever happens is going to happen, good or bad. You can't fight fate.
It's just like walking across the street. God forbid, I hope it doesn't happen, but if you're going to get hit by a car, you're going to get hit. No matter how you cross. Right now, I just leave my life in God's hands, and whatever position he puts me in is the position that he thinks I'll be ready for. So that's how I go about this game -- one at-bat at a time, one strike at a time. Just go after it like it's my last.
We've had days off, which I don't like. I'm not used to that. During the offseason, if I have two weeks off, I feel like garbage. I need to be doing something, working out or some type of routine that's going to keep me in shape.
Yesterday I was here (at Busch Stadium). I hit. We shagged, we ran. I stayed behind and took some extra BP in the cages. I worked out even more. It was just like today. I'm doing the same thing. Batting practice, fielding practice, hit in the cage and I went to work out again. I'm staying with the same routine. I try not to change anything.
I've had family calling, congratulating me, telling me to stay focused, which I appreciate. I love them for that. But it's not really too much. They know when to call and when not to call. Yesterday and today, they know those are the days to call, and when it's game day, they know I'm not going to answer the phone.
But I'm very excited about tomorrow. I can't wait. It's a big game. I just want to go into the game with no pressure. I can't really explain it, but I try not to get caught up in the big picture.
Like if you look at a painting, I'm that piece of the painting that's off to the side. Everybody looks at the middle, and you look off to the side, just a little piece that nobody's watching, and all of a sudden it sneaks up on you. I'm that guy.
Finally, just root for us. My family, I know they're doing that. But everybody in St. Louis, we need you guys. Whether you're in the stadium or you're watching at home, pray for us and root for us. We'll be listening.
John Rodriguez's diary appears as told to MLB.com reporter Matthew Leach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.