Francisco Rodriguez, the veteran closer who stumbled to a miserable 7.82 ERA last year in what he dubbed a "disaster" of a season, isn't ready to pack it in yet, saying Tuesday he's eager to help a big-league club.
“I still have plenty left,” Rodriguez told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. “I am hoping to get an opportunity to help a team win a championship. I’m physically way better than I was last year. I’m ready. If I didn’t have it, I’d say it. I’m a straight shooter – my own worst critic.”
Last year, after the Detroit Tigers exercised Rodriguez’s $6-million team option, the six-time All-Star crumbled, as diminished velocity fueled a career-worst 7.82 ERA – with nine home runs allowed in 25 1/3 innings – and compelled the club to release him in June. Several weeks later, he landed a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals, but was released after just five outings split between three affiliates.
“Everything was a disaster last year,” he said. “It was the first time I struggled, and I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know how to come out of it. It was like a snowball going downhill.”
Now, though, Rodriguez – whose 437 career saves rank fourth on the all-time leaderboard – has reclaimed some of his velocity, touching 93 mph in a 42-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, and says he’s ready to showcase his stuff for MLB teams.
“Anytime,” he quipped.
In addition to those 437 saves, Rodriguez, who turned 36 on Sunday, owns a 2.86 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over parts of 16 seasons in the majors, having managed a 28.5 percent strikeout rate while holding opponents to a .205 average across 948 appearances with the Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Angels.
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