Fixes for Rays closer Rodney mainly mental

Closer Fernando Rodney has struggled with control this season (15 walks) but says he is working to get his fastball command back.
Closer Fernando Rodney has struggled with control this season (15 walks) but says he is working to get his fastball command back.
Published May 18, 2013

BALTIMORE — Struggling RHP Fernando Rodney doesn't need to make any adjustments to his setup or delivery, or to change his repertoire or sequencing of pitches to get back to being successful, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Friday.

"For my money, from watching it, it's more what he's thinking right now," Maddon said. "There's little things we've addressed, different items with his setup, delivery and stuff that have gotten him pretty much where he had been last year already.

"I think the correction lies more in the mind more than it does physically. I'd rather we continue to support him and him work through his issues that way as opposed to try and give him all these mechanical panaceas to deal with. I don't think that's what he needs right now."

Rodney blew his third save in 10 chances and his second on a 10-game homestand after being one strike from victory against the Red Sox on Thursday. Though he gave up a bases-loaded double to Will Middlebrooks on what he said "I think was the worst changeup of my career," the bigger concern was he walked four.

He has 15 walks in 15 1/3 innings, compared with 15 for all his 74 2/3 innings last year.

"The biggest difference is obviously the strike-thowing," Maddon said.

The problems stem from a lack of fastball command, an issue for Rodney before he came to the Rays last year. Thursday, for example, only six of his 18 fastballs were strikes, and he was behind five of the seven batters.

"Everything is the same," Rodney said. "The only thing I saw that I can tell you guys, I think the fastball location is not exactly what I want, what I'm looking for. But it's going to be better."

Rodney agreed more or less with Maddon's assessment, saying he feels fine and his participation in the World Baseball Classic during spring training is not an issue. "Sometimes, I think, I feel I try to do too much and try to put the ball in the strike zone," he said. "Maybe that's the point."

Maddon said the key is to strike a balance. "I think it's just a matter of him continuing to go out there and have some success and hopefully not overthink it," Maddon said. "That's my only concern is that he will want to think it through a little bit too much as opposed to just going out there and pitching."

FOR STARTERS: RHP Jake Odorizzi remains the likely choice to take injured LHP David Price's turn in the rotation Monday in Toronto, with RHP Chris Archer, RHP Alex Colome and LHP Alex Torres also candidates. Maddon insisted a decision had not been made. Torres faced one batter in relief Thursday and is available all weekend, which could get him crossed off the list. Colome was scheduled to start tonight for Triple-A Durham. Archer pitched Thursday and is on a limited pitch count because of missed time.

PRICE CHECK: Price reported via Twitter that he felt good but lonely in his first day of working out at the Trop while on the disabled list.

Price's post, on @davidprice14: "Good days work at the field...feeling pretty guuood!! I miss my teammates already"

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Price likely will be limited to treatment and exercise for 4-5 days, then start throwing lightly.

MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria extended his hitting streak to 11 games Friday in the 120-10 win over the Orioles and has reached base in 40 of the Rays' 41 games, one of six players to do so since 2000. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson matched a dubious team record held by Victor Zambrano, allowing eight earned runs in a win. … 1B James Loney is hitting a majors-best .450 on the road, .371 overall. … Rain is forecast for today starting around noon. … Fox will show today's game to 40 percent of the country, with Rays analyst Brian Anderson joining Dick Stockton in the booth.