The Orioles acquired reliever Francisco Rodriguez on Tuesday and he made his O’s debut last night in Kansas City.
Rodriguez has 304 career saves, the third-most among active players and 21st-most all-time. He said he has not been told about any specific role he’ll have out of the O’s bullpen.
“No, just be ready,” Rodriguez said. “Not here to take anyone’s job, just take some pressure off the bullpen. Whatever is possible to help the Orioles, I’ll be ready to do it.”
No doubt one reason the Orioles added Rodriguez is his experience pitching in pennant races and in postseason games. He pitched for the Angels at age 20 in the 2002 World Series.
In 26 postseason games over six different seasons, he is 5-4 with a 2.95 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. What is his key to pitching in big games?
“Just not do too much and enjoy it,” Rodriguez said. “If you put pressure on yourself, there is no way you will perform at the level you are supposed to. So just have fun.
“I’ve been in the postseason before. I was in the postseason when I got called up at 20 years old. I’m the type of pitcher that performs better under pressure situations sometimes than regular games. It’s an advantage.”
After pitching to a 4.38 ERA last season with the Brewers, Rodriguez didn’t sign this year until mid April when he agreed to a minor league deal with Milwaukee. He said today there were a few reasons he was not on an opening day roster this year.
“There were a lot of factors,” he said. “Obviously I didn’t pitch the way I should have last year, but there were also some family issues. My wife was expecting and she gave birth May 5.
“From February to May, it was difficult to make a decision whether to stay with my girl or join a new club. I didn’t want any distractions going to a new club. So I made sure my family was safe first and after that, that is when I signed.”