MINNEAPOLIS -- Fernando Rodney likes to have fun on the mound, wearing his cap tilted to the side and celebrating his saves with his bow and arrow routine. But Rodney has a more serious side to him when it comes to getting himself ready to pitch, as he's worked hard to remain an effective closer despite turning 41 this March.
Rodney joined the Twins in December on a one-year deal worth $4.5 million with a club option, and he said he believes he can keep pitching for several more years just like his friend Bartolo Colon, who pitched with Minnesota last year at 44 years old.
"If you can control the game, it doesn't matter how old you are," Rodney said. "Closing is the situation in the game that I feel most comfortable. I feel like I can do my job."
Rodney still has good stuff, as evidenced by his 65 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings with the D-backs last season while registering a 4.23 ERA and 39 saves in 45 chances. Rodney's fastball velocity has remained consistent, averaging 94-95 mph over the past four seasons, and he throws his changeup roughly 40 percent of the time. Opposing hitters hit just .148 with one homer against his changeup, and it generated 86 swings and misses, per Statcast™.
"We looked at how his stuff has trended over the past few years, and it's really maintained," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We did background on his character and how he is in the clubhouse, and it came back great."
As Molitor noted, Rodney is considered a clubhouse leader and brings plenty of personality to the Twins. He's a former teammate of Ervin Santana with the Angels, and he brings a wealth of experience after pitching for eight different clubs over 15 seasons.
Rodney is a late bloomer, as he didn't become a closer until he was 31 with the Tigers in 2008, but he has racked up 300 career saves and was an All-Star in '12, '14 and '16.
"Rodney has done it for a long time," lefty reliever Zach Duke said. "I think the opportunity is there for us to lock it down and win games."
The bullpen figures to be much stronger with the additions of Rodney, Duke and Addison Reed this offseason, and Rodney was excited about the chance to meet some of his new teammates at TwinsFest in January.
Rodney didn't need to be reassured that he was the closer after the Twins signed Reed, as the club had already told him he would close this season, and it was a reason why he signed with Minnesota. Rodney doesn't think it'll be an issue during the season, and he is looking forward to getting to know his new teammates better.
"We're going to be together like a family," Rodney said. "Good communication between us is going to be the key. If a teammate ever needs anything from me, they can ask any time."