Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey “wouldn’t be surprised” if Fernando Rodney returns

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The Rays addressed their need for a closer by acquiring Heath Bell in a three-team trade at the beginning of December. Fernando Rodney, who had been their closer for the past two seasons, became a free agent at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season, but the right-hander has yet to sign with a new team. As a result, pitching coach Jim Hickey says he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Rodney ends up returning to the Rays, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

GM Andrew Friedman also said he would “see if anything makes sense” in terms of adding additional relievers. If the Rays were to sign Rodney, he would likely remain as the closer, pushing Bell into a set-up role. Bell had good defense-independent numbers last season but gave up way too many home runs (12 in 65.2 innings) and allows an unusually high rate of hits on batted balls for a back-end reliever. Meanwhile, Rodney had an historically great season in 2012 (0.60 ERA) and still had one of the better seasons of his career last year (3.38 ERA).

Joe Maddon ejected in eighth inning of NLCS Game 4 after umpires overturn a Wade Davis strikeout

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon was once again ejected from an NLCS game, this time in Game 4.

In the top of the eighth inning, closer Wade Davis found himself in a bit of a pickle. He gave up a leadoff home run to Justin Turner, cutting the Cubs’ lead to 3-2. Davis then walked Yasiel Puig. He was able to get Andre Ethier to pop up, bringing up Curtis Granderson. Granderson worked the count 2-2, then fouled off a pitch. And then he appeared to swing through a curve that bounced in the dirt. Catcher Willson Contreras applied the tag for the out, but Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that he made slight contact with the ball, so it was a foul ball.

Wolf conferred with the other umpires. After a brief delay, the strikeout was overturned and Granderson was given new life in the batter’s box. Only… replays showed that Wolf got it right the first time.

Understandably, Maddon was livid. On the broadcast, one could see Maddon gesturing to the umpires to look at the replay on the video board behind the stands in left field. The argument fell on deaf ears and he was ejected. Thankfully for the Cubs, justice prevailed and Davis struck out Granderson on the next pitch.

It’ll be interesting to see if Maddon makes any political comparisons after the game. He likened the slide rule, the impetus behind his Game 1 ejection, to the soda tax.