Before new reliever Fernando Rodney threw his first pitch for the Rays, he wanted to apologize for throwing a ball into the Trop press box after a 2009 game.
In a three-way call placed by his agent, Rodney said he wanted to make clear he was acting purely out of frustration that night and not aiming for or intending to hit anyone when he hurled the ball from the field, an act that earned him a three-game suspension.
"I want to say sorry," the Dominican Republic native said Wednesday.
After that, Rodney — who saved 37 games for the Tigers in 2009, then had two less successful seasons with the Angels — said he was looking forward to regaining his previous form and helping the Rays however he could.
"I'm prepared mentally and physically for whatever role is handed to me — sixth, seventh, eight, ninth inning, it doesn't matter," Rodney said, his comments translated by agents' rep Juan Nunez.
Kyle Farnsworth figures to keep the closer's role, but Rodney could join Joel Peralta as a dynamic setup duo. Though Rodney struggled last season around a disabled list stint due to a back strain, specifically with 28 walks and 26 hits in 32 innings (4.50 ERA, 3 saves), he has pitched well in winter ball for Escogido (0.81 ERA, 4 saves through 11 games).
"I feel very comfortable with the way I'm throwing the ball in the Dominican," he said. "It's very similar to those days I was in Detroit."
Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, who met with Rodney in the Dominican, said, "Fernando's pure stuff is top-notch and can beat hitters both in and out of the strike zone. We feel he will be able to maximize his ability with us to further strengthen our bullpen."
After making $11 million for 2010-11, Rodney, who turns 35 in March, signed a one-year deal with the Rays for $1.75 million, with either a $2.5 million option for 2013 or a $250,000 buyout. He said playing for Joe Maddon and with a contender were big factors.
While the assumption all offseason has been that the Rays were looking to acquire a big middle-of-the-order bat, they apparently are considering options.
Outfielder Coco Crisp, a speedy leadoff type, told the San Francisco Chronicle the Rays made a strong bid before he chose to re-sign with Oakland, getting $14 million over two years, plus a $7.5 million 2014 option. While it's not clear how much the Rays offered, their interest in Crisp might indicate they are exploring trading an outfielder, presumably centerfielder B.J. Upton, with a pitcher in a package deal for a heavy hitter.
Honor to Former Rays exec: Former Rays executive and Eckerd College coach Bill Livesey, also a longtime Yankees official, will receive the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation on Jan. 14 in Los Angeles.
Around the majors
ZAMBRANO TO MARLINS: Miami acquired right-hander Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs for right-hander Chris Volstad, according to ESPN. Chicago will pay $15 million of the $18 million owed to Zambrano this year, the network reported.
Zambrano, 30, was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA last season and wore out his welcome after repeated meltdowns. The former ace cleaned out his locker and talked about retiring after being ejected during a loss to Atlanta on Aug. 12. He was suspended without pay and didn't pitch again.
The Marlins also signed former Rays right-hander Chad Gaudin to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Gaudin, 28, pitched for Tampa Bay in 2003 and 2004.
TORRE JOINS DODGERS BID: Joe Torre resigned as Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations to join a group trying to buy the Dodgers. Torre managed the Dodgers from 2008-10, then retired and joined MLB in February as a top aide to commissioner Bud Selig. He's part of a group headed by real estate developer Rick Caruso.
REDS: Right-hander Andrew Brackman, 26, the Yankees' first-round pick in 2007 who was let go after the season, signed a one-year deal.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.