Veteran infielder Alex Cintron opts for retirement

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32-year-old infielder Alex Cintron, who had been playing with the Padres’ Triple-A club, decided to retire Tuesday, according to Tucson broadcaster Tim Hagerty.

Cintron chose to quit even though he was playing quite well.  He had two hits in his final game Monday, and he was sporting a .350/.394/.500 line in 60 at-bats for Tucson.

It’s easy to forget now, but the switch-hitting Cintron had 2,056 major league at-bats to his credit.  He won the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop job by hitting an impressive .317/.359/.389 with 13 homers in 448 at-bats in 2003.  Technically he wasn’t a rookie at the time — though he had only 82 at-bats between 2001 and 2002, he spent too much time on the major league roster to qualify — or he would have found himself on some Rookie of the Year ballots.

Unfortunately, Cintron never duplicated that success.  He played in 154 games for the Diamondbacks in 2004, but he hit .262/.301/.363 and finished with only four homers.   He was somewhat better as a utilityman in 2005, but the Diamondbacks traded him to the White Sox for reliever Jeff Bajenaru after that season.  He went on to hit .268/.299/.366 with seven homers in 473 at-bats for the White Sox over the next two years.

After the 2007 season, Cinton started bouncing around.  He had 133 at-bats with the Orioles in 2008 and 26 with the Nationals in 2009.  He didn’t appear in the majors last year, and he opened this season in Mexico before signing a minor league deal with the Padres.

So, it wasn’t a remarkable career, but it was certainly a very good one for a guy who lasted all of the way to the 36th round in the 1997 draft.  Cintron twice finished in the top 10 in the NL in triples, and on July 8, 2004, he became the first player in Diamondbacks history to homer from both sides of the plate.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.