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Rodney regains velocity, command in scoreless frame

MESA, Ariz. -- New Mariners closer Fernando Rodney threw just his second scoreless inning of the spring on Thursday with a hitless eighth against the Cubs in a 3-0 victory at Cubs Park.

Rodney, 37, lugged a 15.75 ERA into the game after allowing five runs (four earned) and four hits with a walk and hit batter in 1 1/3 innings over his previous two outings. He'd given up runs in four of his first five Cactus League appearances, but manager Lloyd McClendon said he was unconcerned as the veteran went about his work in non-save situations without normal closer adrenaline.

Things went better against the Cubs. Rodney walked the second batter he faced, but then struck out the next two hitters while hitting 93-95 mph with his fastball.

"I'm just throwing strikes," Rodney said. "My fastball is there. A little bit I'm working on my location. I need a little more work, maybe Sunday I'll throw again."

McClendon said pitching coach Rick Waits "did some real good things" with Rodney in a Thursday morning mound session that seemed to help.

"He fixed some things in his delivery and felt real good about it," McClendon said. "As a result, he threw a lot of strikes and looked real good."

McClendon did go out to the mound midway through the inning to check on Rodney after noticing a drop in his velocity, but the pitcher said he was having an issue with the mound that affected his lead foot.

"The mound had a hole in it, so the velocity was going down and he thought something was going on," Rodney said. "I had it in my mind that hole was there, but I was fine."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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