Many were surprised to see Francisco Rodriguez — and not Jim Henderson — get the call for the Brewers in the ninth inning this afternoon against the Braves. However, after Rodriguez closed out the Opening Day victory, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that he plans to stick with Rodriguez in the ninth inning for the time being.
According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, the change was made after Brewers officials were “concerned” that Henderson showed diminished velocity and life on his pitches this spring. Roenicke said that the hope is that he’ll be able to find his “stuff” and confidence in lower-leverage situations, after which they would consider putting him back into the closer role. Rodriguez is coming off a rough spring of his own, partially because of stepping on a cactus, but he’s now to the point where he can pitch without pain.
Henderson, 31, posted a 2.70 ERA and a 75/24 K/BB ratio over 60 innings last season. He went 28-for-32 in save opportunities.
You may recall that, back in May, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got into a fight with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista slid late into second base, with which Odor took issue, so he punched Bautista in the face. That earned him a seven-game suspension.
With one out in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians, Odor reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy then hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Odor slid hard into Jason Kipnis covering second base.
Kipnis, hearkening back to the Bautista fight, backed up as if he were afraid Odor would punch him. Odor got a good chuckle out of it, but it was the Rangers’ bench which perhaps enjoyed the joke most. The Rangers’ broadcast showing Adrian Beltre cracking up and telling his other teammates what had happened.
Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez made his debut with his new team on Thursday night after a brief stint with Triple-A Round Rock. He started in left field and was inserted into the number eight spot in the Rangers’ batting order.
The Rangers made two quick outs in the bottom of the second inning, with Adrian Beltre grounding out and Rougned Odor striking out. But the inning was kept alive as Jonathan Lucroy singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and then Mitch Moreland walked to bring up Gomez.
Gomez took a first-pitch cutter from Josh Tomlin for a ball, then jumped on another cut fastball, drilling it for a no-doubt three-run home run into the seats in left field at Globe Life Park in Arlington (#29 out of 30 in Craig’s ballpark name rankings).
Here’s the video.