By way of reminder, K-Rod was removed from the role of closer after back-to-back blown saves in Oakland last month. At the time, he was 7 of 11 in save chances with an 8.49 ERA. Ausmus said at the time the goal was for Rodriguez to work things out and hinted that the hope was for his former closer to once again return to the role.
Instead, K-Rod's been mostly just a trash-time pitcher. Some of his comments Tuesday to the Detroit News:
"Am I being judged on 10 outings? What about the other 400-plus saves? What about the almost 1,000 appearances?
"I made my living in tough, pressure situations. I have not made my living being a mop-up guy."
"They have to test me?" he said, incredulously. "They have to find out if I can pitch? That's exactly what it means. I've never been in a mop-up situation. I haven't pitched the last 15 years, being consistent, putting up numbers being mop-up. That's not how I've made my living.
"You talk to Brad more than I have," he said. "To be honest, no one talked to me. No one tells me anything. They never ask my opinion. They never ask me if I am ready to do that or not. It was their decision. Nobody asks me anything.
"Ask Dubee how many times he's talked to me. They are the ones who have all the answers."
OK, so let's give K-Rod at least a little benefit of the doubt on some fronts here. He's a professional athlete who has had tremendous success in his career. Nearly everyone like that still believes he's as good as he ever was, even when he's fading. He ranks fourth in career saves behind Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. He holds the single-season record in saves with 62. He's a six-time All-Star, including as recently as 2015.
There's going to be pride in there for sure. You can't blame him.
Further, the pitching coach at the very least should probably be communicating with him some.
It's just that the reality of the situation needs a little more than just his past. You can't just say something about being judged on his 400 career saves, because by that logic someone should sign Lee Smith to close games right now. As the saying goes, Father Time is undefeated; K-Rod might be losing that battle right now.
There's no shame in it. Rodriguez has appeared in 943 games in his 16-year career. With his high-torque pitching motion, that's a lot of wear and tear on an arm. Entering Tuesday, K-Rod sports a 6.53 ERA on the season.
Now, it's been 4.00 since he was removed from the closer role and 2.84 in his last seven outings, so he's making progress. Then again, didn't K-Rod just tell us to not judge him on 10 outings?
For many elite athletes, it's a hard thing to accept when the skill set starts to leave. This could be the case with Rodriguez. It's also possible he does have something left in the tank and that's been reflected in the past few weeks.
For now, a disgruntled Rodriguez remains in low-leverage situations for the Tigers.