Francisco Rodriguez knew he’d be used as a setup man when the Brewers traded for him, but the longtime closer apparently expected to get at least the occasional save chance.
Instead the Brewers have yet to give him a ninth-inning save opportunity, sticking with John Axford at all times, and Rodriguez told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he’s disappointed:
I’m not fine. They told me I’d have the opportunity to close some games, and we’ve had 20-some save opportunities since then and I haven’t even had one. I’m a little disappointed in that, but that’s something that’s out of my hands.
Meanwhile, as Miller points out since the trade Rodriguez has made a total of 24 appearances and Axford has had 19 save chances. Axford has stayed healthy and has converted a team record 39 straight saves, which hasn’t left the window open for Rodriguez even a crack.
In fairness to Rodriguez there’s a big difference between expressing frustration about his lack of save chances and actually letting that impact his performance or demeanor. Axford told Miller that Rodriguez “has been great” and there’s no indication that Rodriguez’s unhappiness has kept him from doing his best in the setup role, where he’s thrown 23 innings with a 2.31 ERA and 24/9 K/BB ratio.
As an impending free agent Rodriguez should have little problem securing a multi-year deal to resume closing elsewhere next season.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.