Francisco Rodriguez's 2017 option was picked up by Detroit, so he appears poised to once again serve as a reasonably priced source of saves. The 35-year-old righty has notched 126 saves across stops with the Brewers and Tigers over the past two seasons, and while his velocity readings and fielding independent numbers always seem to suggest he is pitching over his head, he may be the best example of someone who has the "closer mentality" -- if such a thing exists. Along with the saves, he can still get a decent amount of strikeouts while batters chase the changeup and breaking ball out of the zone, and he still posts solid ratios. While his ERA often fluctuates from year to year, he has kept it at 3.24 or lower in each of the past four seasons, although most projection systems will have him eclipsing that mark this season. He is the type of closer that is easier to roster than watch, as things often get interesting, even as he posted a career-best 54.7 percent groundball rate last season.
Rodriguez (hamstring) will throw in a minor league game Thursday, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reports. Expected to be available for Wednesday's Grapefruit League outing, Rodriguez will instead be pushed back by a day. This probably isn't indicative of a setback, as the Tigers are also taking a more cautious approach than previously planned with a few of their other injured players.
Rodriguez (groin) will remain with Team Venezuela until it is eliminated from the WBC, Anthony Feneche of the Detroit Free Press reports. Although it appeared Rodriguez injured his groin during Venezuela's game against Team Italy, the injury apparently wasn't anything serious and turned out to just be a cramp. It makes sense, seeing as the Tigers probably wouldn't let him continue if it was anything more than a cramp, so barring any more setbacks, K-Rod should be ready to go for Opening Day once he returns from the WBC.
Rodriguez said that he was only suffering from a cramp when he limped off the field during his appearance Saturday for the Venezuelan team in the World Baseball Classic, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reports. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was able to talk to Rodriguez on the phone after word of a possible injury surfaced, but the closer assured the skipper that he was fine and was only hobbling because a wrap on his leg was applied too tightly. The Tigers will wait to hear back from the Venezuelan trainers before determining if Rodriguez will need to be summoned back to spring training for further examination, but Ausmus seems optimistic that won't be necessary.
Rodriguez appeared to injure himself against Italy on Saturday, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports. Rodriguez was examined by trainers after injuring himself during the same play catcher Salvador Perez went down. It would be a tough blow for the Tigers if K-Rod had to miss extended time, leaving a hole in the back end of the bullpen. He didn't come back out to pitch the last inning, but he also wasn't seen limping to the locker room like Perez. The 35-year-old should be considered day-to-day until more information is made available about his status.
Rodriguez gave up three runs on one hit while walking two and striking out one during his spring debut against the Yankees on Saturday. K-Rod was limited to just 23 pitches in his first - and only - game before he heads to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The 35-year-old retired the first two batters before being pulled after loading the bases, which were subsequently cleared before Jairo Labourt could record the last out. He's heading to the WBC to compete for Team Venezuela and will assume his role as the Tigers' closer upon his return.