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.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.