Maybe Texas should shop Pudge

Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks said Sunday that catcher Ivan Rodriguez will not be traded, even though the nine-time All-Star becomes a 10/5 player on June 2.

Rodriguez is in the midst of a five-year, $42 million contract — chicken feed compared to teammate Alex Rodriguez’s $252 million deal — which runs through next season. Man just imagine all of the awesome things you can buy with that money. You can shop until you literally drop! LOL.

“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” Hicks said. “People like to stir things up, but I assured him there’s absolutely no truth to any of the rumors.”

But wouldn’t it make sense for the pitching-short, financially-committed Rangers to explore every avenue? And wouldn’t it make sense for several teams to pursue Rodriguez, who is arguably baseball’s most valuable player?

Consider three teams in particular — the Indians, Red Sox and Dodgers. All three have young pitchers to offer and money to spend if the deal is right. More importantly, in the case of all three, Ivan Rodriguez could put them over the top.

The Indians don’t want to trade C.C. Sabathia … but to get I-Rod? You’d have to. Throw in Danys Baez, Einar Diaz and you’ve got a deal.

Boston, desperately seeking to win a pennant while John Harrington’s name is still on the letterhead, would surely be willing to offer Tomo Ohka, Paxton Crawford and Varitek — maybe Shea Hillenbrand as well.

The Dodgers could dangle Matt Herges, Luke Prokopec and Paul Lo Duca.

Will any of these deals happen? Probably not. The Rangers should make every attempt to hold onto their catcher. But Hicks must understand the consequences to his wallet if he doesn’t move I-Rod in the next two weeks.

Food for thought: Consider it my Big Bang Theory.

Some day, in the not too distant future, a player will have a game that will rock the baseball world.

It will be the hitter’s equivalent of 21 strikeouts.

The ultimate perfect game.

A major league player will sock five home runs in a single nine-inning contest.

It’s just a matter of time.

Where will it happen? Well, Coors Field is the baseball equivalent of the San Andreas Fault. Something huge could happen there at any time. But it could happen anywhere. Just look at the way balls were flying out of Turner Field on Sunday.

Who will do it? It could be anyone. The last two days reinforce that.

Twice this weekend players hit three home runs in a game.

On Saturday, it was Barry Bonds, on his way to 13th place on the all-time homer list.

On Sunday, it was a considerably more unlikely power hitter, Boston’s Jason Varitek, who produced the eighth three-homer game of the season.

That’s amazing, considering that in all of 2000, only nine players hit three homers in a game.

And it seems even more extraordinary when one considers that only 12 times in the history of the game has a player homered four times in a single game.

That said, it’s obvious that more players are having multi-homer games more frequently. Like global warming, it’s a trend that can’t be denied.

Even so, four homers in a game remains the sacred benchmark.

Hank Aaron didn’t do it. Babe Ruth didn’t do it. Nor did Ted Williams or Willie McCovey, who are tied for 11th on the all-time homer list, just five in front of Mr. Bonds, who now stands proudly at 516 career home runs.

It’s been more than four decades since Rocky Colavito (1959) became the last American League player to homer four times in a game. The only other American Leaguers to do it: Lou Gehrig for the 1932 Yankees and Pat Seerey for the 1948 White Sox.

Nine National League players have done it, but none since Mark Whiten had his moment of glory in 1993. The others in reverse order: Bob Horner (1986), Mike Schmidt (1976), Willie Mays (1961), Joe Adcock (1954) Gil Hodges (1950), Chuck Klein (1936), Ed Delahanty (1896), Bobby Lowe (1894).

Rest assured, however, that it’s just a matter of time until all 12 names are stricken from the record book.

Before long, some player is going to go where no major leaguer has tread.

Five homers in a game will be sort of like walking on the moon.

One small step for man, one huge dent in a pitcher’s ERA.

And we might be surprised at who does it. It might not be Bonds or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or any of the other names we might anticipate.

Consider that Bonds, on Sunday, became the 29th player to homer in four consecutive official at-bats and that among the previous five players to do that were the infamous Jeff Manto in 1995 and Larry Herndon in 1982. (The others most recently being Bo Jackson in 1990, Bobby Higginson in 1997 and Manny Ramirez in 1998).

Consider that Varitek (4-for-4) went into Sunday’s game with just two home runs all season and that he’d gone 108 at-bats without hitting even one home run before producing a game-winner at Oakland last week.

Consider that Devon White — not exactly known as the Tower of Power — has produced three grand slams in a span of the last 10 days. White has 11 grand slams in a career that began in 1985. His next home run with be his 200th.

Others with three-homer games this season include Carlos Delgado (twice), Jeromy Burnitz, Geoff Jenkins, Todd Hollandsworth and Aramis Ramirez.

You never know where the power will come from.

Hey, Freddie Patek once hit three homers in a game. Anything is possible.

Below the radar: Sometimes you’re better off not catching the ball.

Take the case of Minnesota second baseman Luis Rivas, who backpedaled into shallow right field to make the grab on Oriole Fernando Lunar’s popup for the second out of the ninth inning on Sunday.

Problem was that Brady Anderson was on third for the Orioles. When he saw Rivas about to make the catch, he tagged and scored the winning run with relative ease.

“I didn’t think he would go home,” said Rivas, who couldn’t get much on his throw.

“Ideally, you’d like to have the outfielder catch the ball,” said Twins manager Tom Kelly.

Chances are that Anderson never would have risked tagging up had right fielder Chad Allen made the grab with his momentum going toward the plate.

“The right fielder catches it, he stays,” said O’s third base coach Tom Trebelhorn.

Anderson had the situation sized up. “If a guy has to go back, even a little bit, it takes a half second to stop, plant and throw.” That was all the extra time Anderson needed.

Chatter: Hitting coach Von Joshua took the fall in Chicago as the White Sox replaced him with Gary Ward. Chicago hitters batted .286 last season but are struggling along at a .245 pace this year. Moreover, run production is down from 6.1 to 4.3 runs per game. … The Pirates hadn’t rallied to win from a seven-run deficit since 1998 against Milwaukee. They did it again to the Brewers on Sunday, getting Emil Brown’s RBI single to cap a five-run eighth inning. … Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall, 26, is expected to begin playing a game or two a week in the outfield to give his legs an occasional rest. … Sammy Sosa had a home run taken away from him at Wrigley Field on Sunday. Former Cubs first baseman Mark Grace went crazy after Sosa’s drive down the right-field line was originally called fair. But the call was overturned by ump Marty Foster. Grace was somewhat apologetic for the manner in which he went after the ump. “We’re not in Cuba, here,” he said. “We’re allowed to disagree and say our piece. I’m not going to react like that if I thought it was possibly fair. From my vantage point it looked like it was a good three of four feet foul.” The Cubs, behind Kevin Tapani (6-1), took a 6-0 lead into the ninth. After Tom Gordon and Kyle Farnsworth failed to slam the door, the job fell to Jeff Fassero, who got the final three outs in a 6-5 win. … The last time Aaron Sele started a season 6-0 was his rookie season in Boston, when he was a teammate of Roger Clemens. On Sunday, Sele handed Clemens (4-1) his first loss as the Mariners improved to 32-11. For extra points, which player leads the Mariners in RBI? Edgar? Ichiro? Olerud? Try Bret Boone, now with 43. … Brett Tomko (2-1, 5.97) might still be in the majors with another team, but the pitching-deep Mariners optioned him to Tacoma on Sunday, calling up infielder Ed Sprague. … Manny Ramirez had a homer and two hits, raising his average to .406. … Luis Gonzalez had his 14-game hitting streak halted. … Minnesota had been 8-0 in one-run decisions before losing to Baltimore 3-2. … St. Louis went into Philadelphia as baseball’s hottest team but needed seven strong innings from Dustin Hermanson (5-1) and Fernando Vina’s first home run of the season to salvage one win, taking Sunday’s game 3-1 at The Vet. Jim Edmonds left in the fifth inning with a sore right knee.