ANAHEIM -- Fernando Rodney's many quirks are well documented -- among them, of course, his sideways, flat-billed cap, and an imaginary arrow he shoots skyward when he locks down a save. But he may have something newfangled in the works.The A's newest bullpen addition, readying for a reversal in roles,
ANAHEIM -- Fernando Rodney's many quirks are well documented -- among them, of course, his sideways, flat-billed cap, and an imaginary arrow he shoots skyward when he locks down a save. But he may have something newfangled in the works.
The A's newest bullpen addition, readying for a reversal in roles, with saves likely to be reserved for Oakland closer Blake Treinen, wouldn't reveal what he has in mind upon arriving in Anaheim on Friday.
"Maybe if it's not save situation, you see something different, you'll be surprised," Rodney said. "I'm looking for something. I'm going to do something special."
Rodney, 41 but says he's feeling 29, comes from Minnesota, where he compiled a 3.09 ERA while collecting 25 saves with 50 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings. Three times in as many weeks, the A's have added a reliever; Rodney joins newbies Jeurys Familia and Shawn Kelley in a formidable bullpen that's helped carry the club into contention.
It's an elite unit that features some of the game's best pitches; Treinen's 98-mph sinker, for example. Familia is also equipped with a big, moving sinker, while Lou Trivino can complement a 100-mph fastball with a low-90s cutter. Rodney brings another toy to the table.
"I think he has the best changeup in the game," said A's reliever Ryan Buchter, teammates with Rodney in San Diego.
Just how the A's will organize these parts remains to be seen, but they're undeniably in position to shorten games on any given day -- and are better equipped to avoid overusing any of them.
"We have a good bullpen. This just makes us better," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I know he's excited about being here. Talking to him, I know he just wants to help out any way he can. We'll see how it plays out as far as the deployment."
"The role they give me, I'm going to try to do my job and help the team win," Rodney said.
With the acquisition of Rodney, who will become the 31st pitcher used by the A's this year, a franchise record, Oakland's pitching staff now boasts a combined 531 career saves. Rodney is responsible for 325 of them over 16 big league seasons.
"It's amazing, the career he's had and still the performance that he's putting up," Melvin said. "There's a lot of flare to what he does, too, and I've been on the other side of a lot of his saves, so I've seen some of those arrows shot into the air, and I'm glad I'm on the other side of that as well."
The arrow is a nod to a local village near Rodney's hometown in the Dominican Republic called "La Flecha," while his crooked cap commemorates his late father, Ulise, a fisherman who wore his cap tilted to the side to dodge the sun.
"I'm going to help my team," Rodney said, "I'm going to bring my best, and go A's!"
Making space for Rodney meant designating Chris Hatcher for assignment. The right-hander appeared in just 30 games for the A's this season, compiling a 4.24 ERA.
"When you go through a stretch like we're going through right now, typically you're not using that guy that you keep toward the end that you can give you multiple innings when you're down," Melvin said. "We just weren't using [Hatcher] a whole lot here, but we really appreciate what he did. My guess is he'll catch on with somebody else."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.