SEATTLE — Wearing his Mariners cap — of course — slightly askew, Fernando Rodney wandered across the field before Monday's game to visit with some of his former teammates and chat with manager Joe Maddon.
If Rodney had had his way, he would have never left.
A free agent after making a well below market $4.25 million over one outstanding and one decent season in Tampa Bay, Rodney said he was hoping to stay, but the Rays told him he was seeking too much and never made an offer.
"I think they were going to sign me back, but then they said I was looking for too much money," Rodney said. "I couldn't control that. … They never put nothing on the table."
Rodney said he was asking for $14 million to $15 million over two years, and he ended up getting $14 million from the Mariners.
The Rays, meanwhile, signed RHP Grant Balfour — after his deal with the Orioles fell apart over a failed physical — for $12 million over two years (with $2 million deferred each year).
So far, Rodney is 1-1 with 11 saves in 12 chances, a 2.30 ERA and a .259 opponents' average; Balfour is 0-1 with six saves in seven chances, a 5.02 ERA and a .204 opponents' average.
Maddon said he stays out of the business aspects, he "totally" supports the decisions executive vice president Andrew Friedman makes and the Rays were "fortunate" to end up with Balfour.
And it may not have been that the Rays didn't want Rodney, more a case of timing. His agent was said to initially be seeking a much bigger deal, which the Rays were not going to be interested in, then dropped his price and didn't sign until several weeks after Balfour.
Maddon clearly enjoyed Rodney's two seasons.
"I loved having him here, loved his personality. I consider him a real good friend," he said. "As always, we have all these guys living throughout the leagues now, and I wish them nothing but the best except when they play us.
"Fernando was a Ray. … He was a great teammate, he was really well-liked in the clubhouse, you guys saw all that."
Though Rodney told Seattle/Tacoma media a few days ago that he was looking to show the Rays they made a mistake, he said Monday there were no hard feelings.
"It's business," he said. "They make it happen when they want to. If they don't, you go."
COBB DOES WELL: RHP Alex Cobb said "everything went really well" in a 60-pitch simulated game on Monday in Port Charlotte, and if he feels well today he is expected to make a rehab start Saturday with a plan to rejoin the rotation May 22.
"He threw really well," Maddon said. "The numbers were good, the velocity was good, the movement was good."
Cobb is likely to start Saturday for the Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte, though if weather is an issue he could go to Triple-A Durham.
BELL TOLLS: RHP Heath Bell cleared waivers and was officially released, making him free to sign with any team. The Rays were paying $5.5 million of his $9 million salary and thus will owe him the remainder — around $4.2 million, minus what he signs for elsewhere.
LONG TIME COMING: If it seems as if the Rays' games are dragging, it's because they are. Data from MLB shows that the Rays have by far the highest average time for nine-inning games, at 3 hours, 17 minutes, 45 seconds. Next are the Dodgers at 3:10:35. Sunday was the Rays' 13th straight game of more than 3 hours.
MISCELLANY: LHP Enny Romero was scratched from Monday's start at Triple-A Durham for potential need in the majors. … Down 9-0 in the sixth, Maddon pulled starters Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and James Loney and moved RF Wil Myers to first.