Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays' Fernando Rodney revitalized after two frustrating seasons with Angels

A revitalized Fernando Rodney is perfect in five save opportunities for the Rays, who signed him after two frustrating seasons with the Angels, coming to town for three games this week.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

A revitalized Fernando Rodney is perfect in five save opportunities for the Rays, who signed him after two frustrating seasons with the Angels, coming to town for three games this week.

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Fernando Rodney said he has worn his cap tilted to the side ever since 2002, when he was playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and wanted to do "something different."

But Rodney has never seen teammates respond to it like the Rays did Saturday, mimicking the style with their green Earth Day hats during batting practice. C Chris Gimenez called it "Rodney BP Day," pointing out even "country boy" Jeff Keppinger joined in.

"That's the first time I've been with a team like that," Rodney said, smiling. "That's something crazy."

Rodney is comfortable and confident in his first season with the Rays, and it shows. He has finished all but one of the team's nine wins, converting five consecutive saves while holding opponents to a .083 average. With Kyle Farnsworth injured, Rodney has returned to a familiar role closing games, just in time to welcome the Angels, who he felt gave up on him too soon last year.

"I'm going to be happy," Rodney said. "I'm in the ninth inning — to show them I can do that."

Rodney, who saved 37 games for Detroit in 2009, had a disappointing stint in Anaheim after signing a two-year, $11 million deal. He lost the closer's role early last season, injured his back and was barely used down the stretch. But having made some mechanical adjustments, Rodney has better command of his fastball and is thriving in a one-year, $2 million deal with Tampa Bay.

"I feel comfortable, they believe, they give you the ball," said Rodney, 35. "They trust you."

Pitching coach Jim Hickey is not surprised, considering Rodney's success with the Tigers. "There's nothing like a little bit of success to make you feel like you're bulletproof and 10 feet tall," Hickey said. "And hopefully, that's the way he feels right now."

Rodney has been loose since joining the Rays in spring training, sometimes dancing and cracking jokes. Teammates have called him Kimbo Slice, due to his resemblance to the famous mixed martial arts star. Rodney has a swagger, but, as reliever J.P. Howell says, "smiles during the ugliest moments and doesn't ever infect anyone with any negativity."

Rodney boasts a mid 90s fastball and what Evan Longoria describes as a "devastating" changeup, but it's his composure that stands out.

"He's got ice in his veins," Longoria said.

Howell was most impressed with Rodney when he closed out the Rays' 1-0 win in Boston on April 16. That's when Rodney first started his post-save routine of pretending to shoot a bow and arrow into the sky. Rodney says he does it because, like the Yankees and Red Sox, the Rays can play nine innings and "make something happen." "I love it, it pumps me up," Howell said.

Said Hickey: "It's like he's shooting an arrow up to the heavens. And he might be doing that, who knows?"

PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price said he physically feels good entering tonight's start with the Angels, another difficult challenge considering he has already faced the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays.

"That's what it's about, if you can get through this and put some good outings (together), it's good for your confidence," Price said.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Rays' Fernando Rodney revitalized after two frustrating seasons with Angels 04/23/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 9:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    A BIG DAY: Adeiny Hechavarria gets a hug from Steven Souza Jr. after hitting a two-run home run in the seventh. Hechavarria also triples and ends the game with a  stellar play at shortstop.
  2. Rays up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: Off

    Up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field.

  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119
  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    This is the Blake Snell everyone has been waiting for. Working off his fastball. Challenging hitters. Staying focused regardless of how many runners are on base. Snell has pitched at least six innings for three straight starts. He had a rough start to the year, but it looks like he has figured it out.

  5. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.