Ex-Twin Rodney on A's: 'We're going to the World Series, man'
MINNEAPOLIS—Two weeks after being traded into a pennant race with the Oakland A's, Fernando Rodney returned to Target Field for the first time Thursday, Aug. 23.
As the 41-year-old reliever did his early running on the warning track, he kept exchanging bellows with his former bullpen mates on the Minnesota Twins' side. As it was during Rodney's brief time with the Twins, there was much laughter.
"We're like family," Rodney said. "Good teammates. We had a lot of fun here, me and those guys."
Rodney, who had yet to walk a batter through six scoreless outings for the surging A's, had to temporarily shelve his famous archery routine now that he's handling seventh-inning setup duties for closer Blake Treinen. Would Rodney perhaps bring it back out for a successful hold here this weekend?
"No," he said with a smile. "We're saving the arrow for the postseason."
That's a place Rodney has visited four times over his 16 seasons in the majors, most recently last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2006 Detroit Tigers, however, were the only team that got Rodney to the World Series.
That, he predicted, is about to change.
"Oh, we're going to the World Series, man," he said of his 10th big-league team. "We've got a good team. There's a lot of talent in this bullpen. I'm chilling. I'm relaxed. No pressure on myself because we've got all these guys that have got stuff to close the game and beat Houston."
Rodney, whose contact includes another $1.2 million for games finished that he likely won't collect, remains four saves shy of tying Francisco Cordero for the record by a Dominican-born closer. Rodney, who has a team option at $4.25 million for 2019, still hopes to surpass Cordero.
"That's something I wanted to do with the Twins," he said. "It's not happening, so I have to keep fighting, keep playing baseball and try to come back next year. I don't know what team, but next year I think I'll get a chance again. I want to do it."
And if it doesn't happen?
"If I don't pass Cordero, I'm blessed too," he said. "A lot of numbers I've put up in my career. I didn't have a plan. I didn't say, 'I'm going to play in the big leagues for 10 years.' I think 325 is a good number too."
Wednesday's magnetic resonance imaging exam on Ervin Santana's right middle finger was still being evaluated a day later.
Twins team physician Dr. John Steubs was expected to confer with Twin Cities orthopedist Thomas Varecka and New York surgeon Charles Melone before determining the next step for Santana, who could be shut down for the season after pitching to an 8.03 earned-run average in five big-league starts.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said Thursday was for a "meeting of the minds" and more information could be shared on Friday, Aug. 24.
Third baseman Miguel Sano, in a 2-for-22 skid with 10 strikeouts over his past six games, was not in Thursday's lineup.
Molitor said he talked with Sano and encouraged him "not to get down" as he works back from a six-week reboot in the minor leagues.
"We've been pushing him," Molitor said. "He's played a lot. I thought, more than anything, his bat looked a little tired the last couple of games. A little later than we've seen with recognition, and he's started trying to cheat to catch up and then he started chasing a little more."
Sano's season on-base percentage has sagged to .289, nearly 50 points below his career standard.
"I just think a bit of a recharge would be good for him," Molitor said.
Right-hander Aaron Slegers, on the DL with shoulder inflammation, resumed his throwing program on Thursday. He plans to play catch again Friday.
Molitor said the coaching staff addressed a pair of botched rundowns with the principals during the two-game set in Chicago, calling those mistakes "a little more concerning" than missed grounders and such.
Lefty reliever Andrew Vasquez, a 32nd-round pick in 2018, was promoted to Triple-A Rochester after posted a combined 1.27 ERA and five saves in 63 2/3 innings. The slider specialist has a career nine-inning strikeout rate of 13.3, including 17.1 at Double-A Chattanooga.