By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
11:41 PM EDT, July 24, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Reliever Francisco Rodriguez joined the Orioles before Wednesday's game in Kansas City still a little surprised he was suddenly wearing a Baltimore uniform after having been acquired in a trade.
Trade rumors had him linked to a lot of teams, and “Baltimore was not one of them, so it was pretty much the same thing as when I was traded from the Mets” to the Brewers in 2011, Rodriguez said from his corner locker in the clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium. “So it was a shock, but at the same time happy.”
The 31-year-old right-hander, acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for infield prospect Nick Delmonico, now finds himself with a contender.
“Hopefully, I can take some pressure off the guys a little bit and help them out the best I can,” Rodriguez said. “I've been used to a heavy workload. To me, it's normal. Hopefully, my experience can bring another piece to them and set up more roles. And help them out a little more.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't shed much light on how Rodriguez will be used in the bullpen.
“He's going to be used to get outs,” Showalter said. “We have 27 outs before they score more runs than we do, and they're all important. He's got a pedigree and a background, and he's been in the fire a lot. Anytime you can add one of those guys, hats off to our minor league staff and minor league development people to produce a player worthy of bringing him back.”
Rodriguez figures to be a late-inning arm — he was 1-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 10 saves with the Brewers, emerging from a minor league deal to become the team's closer — but Jim Johnson's job is not in jeopardy.
Asked whether Rodriguez could get save opportunities on days when Johnson is unavailable, Showalter said, “No more than Darren O'Day or Tommy Hunter, or if the matchups are right, [Brian] Matusz or [Troy] Patton, [Jairo] Asencio if it fits.
“I feel comfortable that we have a lot of people capable of doing it,” Showalter said. “He knows and our guys know what he's here for, and it's another good ‘what if?' You can't pitch every day, so there are days when a win presents itself and you need to have other weapons.”
Rodriguez started the season late, signing a minor league deal with the Brewers in mid-April before receiving a call-up in mid-May, so he said he's fresher than in past years.
“I started late and played winter ball,” he said. “I only have 24 [2/3] innings. Usually by now, [I'd have] 50 to 60 innings, so [I'm] definitely a lot fresher. And hopefully that will be beneficial now.
“It's been a strange year for me,” he added. “But at the same time it's been really good — home at the beginning of the season, minor leagues and then here with a different ballclub. It's just been a long ride, but it's been fun at the same time. So I'm looking forward to this challenge. Now I have it, and it's my job to step up.”
Around the horn
The Orioles have received trade interest in Chris Dickerson, who was designated for assignment Friday to make room for Urrutia. He's expected to be dealt within the next few days. … Right-hander Steve Johnson (St. Paul's), making a rehabilitation start for short-season Single-A Aberdeen, pitched 21/3 innings, allowing two earned runs — one on a solo homer — on three hits with four strikeouts and one walk. … Manny Machado entered Wednesday's game with 71 hits on the road, most in the majors. His 19 multi-hit games on the road are tied for second-most behind the Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson (20).
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