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K-Rod arrives to camp late, but confident

Closer accustomed to getting ready quickly in Spring Training
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Francisco Rodriguez pulled into the parking lot at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday morning, took his physical, put on a uniform and promptly got to work. His quick, but late report to Tigers camp kind of falls in line with the late-inning work he was acquired to do.

He does not expect to need long to be ready for the closer's role.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Francisco Rodriguez pulled into the parking lot at Joker Marchant Stadium on Thursday morning, took his physical, put on a uniform and promptly got to work. His quick, but late report to Tigers camp kind of falls in line with the late-inning work he was acquired to do.

He does not expect to need long to be ready for the closer's role.

"I'm not behind at all," he said Thursday. "I'm used to throwing my bullpens March 5, 6, 7, 8. That's usually when I throw my first bullpen. Usually I don't get into a game until the 15th.

"I've gotta pitch four or five outings, six at the most, in Spring Training."

He has a recent track record of that. He pitched five games last Spring Training, six in 2014, preparing himself for a workload of 129 games over the last two seasons with the Brewers. Both All-Star seasons came after late signings with Milwaukee -- March 14 last year, Feb. 7 the year before that.

After 14 Major League seasons, the 34-year-old has a clear idea of what works for him, in preparation, in pitches, in pressure.

"It's something I've been doing for so long," he said. "Obviously you always appreciate when a team takes the opportunity to give you that responsibility, a big responsibility. But there's always going to be pressure. Every single day we work, there's going to be pressure. But you go out there, relax and get the job done.

"It's not my first rodeo. I've been around long enough to know what to expect."

That experience is one reason Tigers officials didn't seem worried by his late arrival, even if it was unexpected.

Rodriguez was delayed in his native Venezuela by visa problems, which finally cleared this week. He missed out on six days of camp, but was working out on his own. He took part in everything except throwing Thursday.

"It's been a crazy month personally, but that's behind me," he said. "Gotta move forward, just concentrate now on getting ready for the season."

Even if he doesn't need as much throwing work at this point in his career, the early time is important, he said, from a team-chemistry standpoint.

"[Got to] get to know the signs, get to know the young guys, try to work with them, build chemistry," he said. "I'm pretty much a stranger walking in. This is my first year. Even though I have two guys that I've known for a long time [in fellow Venezuelans Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez], you have to adapt to the routine on a ballclub, and that's what I'll try to do in the next week or so."

That goes especially for Detroit's young relievers, notably fellow Venezuelan Bruce Rondon, who said last week he was looking forward to meeting Rodriguez.

"Not only him," Rodriguez said, "all the young guys, try to develop them as quickly as possible, try to teach them about the business every day, how to prepare themselves to embrace the pressure. Not only him, any other guy that needs help, I'm going to be there to help them."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Detroit Tigers, Francisco Rodriguez