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Scioscia changes closers -- at least temporarily

The Sports Xchange
Roster Report · Scioscia changes closers -- at least temporarily · Notes, Quotes

Angels manager Mike Scioscia's confidence in closer Fernando Rodney was on shaky ground coming into the 2011 season, and it didn't survive one blown save.

Scioscia announced before Tuesday's game in Tampa Bay that Rodney would be removed from the closer role in favor of rookie Jordan Walden. Rodney walked a total of four and allowed two runs in his first two appearances of the season, including a blown save after taking a two-run lead into the ninth inning Sunday. Rodney threw 20 pitches in that outing, hit the strike zone with just seven of them and retired only one of the five batters he faced.

"We had a good conversation with Fernando," Scioscia said. "There are some things he needs to reconnect with in his delivery to get it back to where it's compact.

"To do that, we'll get him out of a back-of-the-game role and try to get him into games where he can work on some of that stuff."

In Walden, Scioscia is turning to a closer with a total of 17 2/3 innings of major league experience. But the hard-throwing Texan had a 2.35 ERA and struck out 23 in 15 1/3 innings after a mid-August promotion last season and had not allowed a run this year (including nine spring innings and three appearances in the four-game series at Kansas City).

"If this lasts the whole season -- if Jordan takes this and runs with it -- fine," Scioscia said. "If it's something where maybe there needs to be some more growth with our young pitchers and Fernando is ready to go back out there when he gets his stuff together, so be it."

Scioscia turned to Walden in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 5-3 victory over the Rays. Walden retired the side in order on 13 pitches, 10 strikes and earned his first save of the season (second of his career).

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