Francisco Rodriguez

Francisco Rodriguez on lack of save chances: “I’m not fine”

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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.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.