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Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey “wouldn’t be surprised” if Fernando Rodney returns

Jan 4, 2014, 11:34 PM EDT

Fernando Rodney Getty Getty Images

The Rays addressed their need for a closer by acquiring Heath Bell in a three-team trade at the beginning of December. Fernando Rodney, who had been their closer for the past two seasons, became a free agent at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season, but the right-hander has yet to sign with a new team. As a result, pitching coach Jim Hickey says he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Rodney ends up returning to the Rays, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

GM Andrew Friedman also said he would “see if anything makes sense” in terms of adding additional relievers. If the Rays were to sign Rodney, he would likely remain as the closer, pushing Bell into a set-up role. Bell had good defense-independent numbers last season but gave up way too many home runs (12 in 65.2 innings) and allows an unusually high rate of hits on batted balls for a back-end reliever. Meanwhile, Rodney had an historically great season in 2012 (0.60 ERA) and still had one of the better seasons of his career last year (3.38 ERA).

  1. nymets4ever - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    You know the offseason has come to a screeching halt when a pitching coach “not being surprised” about a player returning qualifies as a story..

  2. tfbuckfutter - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    How is acquiring Heath Bell “addressing the closer situation”?

    It’s more like saying “Hey closer situation….HAHA! Psyche! Totally made you look but no, really….nothing at all is going on.”

    • indaburg - Jan 5, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      It was addressed with the wrong street name, zip code, illegible handwriting, missing a stamp… Baer never said they addressed it correctly.

      I cringed and did the sign of the cross when I heard that Bell was acquired by the Rays. I foresee many ulcers in my future. Perhaps the unfriendly confines of the Trop can curb that HR/9 ratio although I don’t know if even the Grand Canyon is cavernous enough for that.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:34 AM

        Return to Sender! Address Unknown!

        No but seriously Burgie, I see signs of hope in Bell’s stat line from last season. Let’s start with the best control of his career.

        Let’s follow that with a strong 2nd half of the season split. That’s usually a bad way to evaluate players, unless something happened which caused the sea change. In this case, Bell had a well-documented mechanical fix in June which led to greatly improved results.

        Throw in the fact that the Trop kills flying baseballs, which you mentioned.

        Then throw in the fact that Fernando Rodney is still out there and signing Bell might keep you from re-signing him.

        Finally, having him vacuuming up saves will allow Friedman to keep down the salaries of all the young stud relievers. If one of them became closer, bye-bye salary structure.

        Did I convince you yet?

  3. unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    In other news, I’d be shocked if Hickey were privy to Friedman’s intentions.

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