Eduardo Rodriguez

David Kohl/USA Today Sports

Answering most important question of spring training -- who are best and worst ping pong players on Red Sox?

Nick Friar
March 11, 2018 - 11:27 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. – After watching about two-dozen ping-pong games in the Red Sox clubhouse at JetBlue Park, you get a pretty good idea of who's a standout and who might best be served with a spring training devoted to ping-pong alone.

There are a few you can miss outside of clubhouse availability, but most players have seen just about all their teammates play. Those prepared to share their hard-hitting analysis with were Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, Joe Kelly, Blake Swihart and Mitch Moreland.

Among the players listed in the elite tier were Holt, Kelly and Deven Marrero. Several said Betts and Chris Sale are the team's best with a ping-pong paddle, with Sale having the edge.

When it came to the worst player on the team, agreement was unanimous: Eduardo Rodriguez. Even Eduardo Nunez, who admitted he's not much of a player, picked Rodriguez.

Several were more than happy to assist a scuffling teammate with advice.

"I would say, one, he needs to move," Betts said. "He doesn't move. And two, respect the fact that some of the other guys are better than you and play that way. And don't call people out if you know you're going to get whupped."

Moreland echoed a similar message.

"Everybody likes trash talking with Eddie," Moreland said. "I ain't much better than Eddie. But yeah, I can't give advice other than not talk trash so much when you get beat all the time."

Unlike Betts and Moreland, who gave Rodriguez fairly constructive criticism, Holt – who also said, "if he's on your team you're guaranteed to lose, but he thinks he's good" – didn't exactly take the same approach.

"Don't play anymore," Holt said. "Because he's just embarrassing himself. But, no, we just like to have fun and a good time with him – but he's not good."

After being asked the same question several hours later, Kelly – who's not shy about giving his teammates a hard time – shared a sentiment very similar to Holt's.

"Stop playing," Kelly said. "I think he should just quit. He's not getting any better. I think he should just stop playing altogether."

After receiving the devastating news that his ping-pong career was over before it started, Rodriguez had the opportunity to respond to his critics.

"I mean, when you say, 'you're the worst,' that's because you lost to everybody," Rodriguez said. "And I've lost to almost everybody, so they say that. No (I'm not the worst). It's because I'm playing every time. I play every day, so that's why they say I'm the worst. But there's a lot of worse players here."

There's still time yet for Rodriguez to mount a comeback before the season starts in Tampa on March 29, but if you value Kelly and Holt's ability to break down ping-pong it may be too little, too late.

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