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Francisco Rodriguez

New York Mets — No. 75
Relief pitcher
Born: January 7, 1982 (1982-01-07) (age 28)
Caracas, Venezuela
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
September 18, 2002 for the Anaheim Angels
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
Win-Loss     26-23
Earned run average     2.53
Strikeouts     660
Saves     243
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Francisco José Rodriguez (born January 7, 1982, in Caracas, Venezuela), nicknamed "Frankie" and "K-Rod," is a Major League Baseball closer for the New York Mets. Rodriguez previously played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2002 to 2008, and served as their closer starting in 2005. Rodriguez holds the major league record for saves in a single season with 62, set in 2008.

Contents

Baseball career

Rodríguez pitching for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 16, 2007.
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Anaheim Angels / LA Angels of Anaheim

Set-up career (2002-04)

Rodriguez signed as an undrafted amateur free agent in 1998. Originally a starting pitcher, Rodriguez moved to relief pitching in 2002 after elbow and shoulder injuries shortened his 2001 minor league season with the Lake Elsinore Storm. In 2002, he made his major league debut. Because of the multiple injuries to the Angels bullpen, the club brought him up during the middle of September. He emerged as a postseason relief hero, winning five postseason games despite never having won a Major League game before.

Because Rodriguez had played very little in the Major Leagues, hitters in the playoffs had little idea what to expect from him, a situation that often favors the pitcher. In the ALDS against the Yankees, he got two victories (with 1 win resulting from a blown save). Against the Twins in the ALCS, he went 2–0 with seven strikeouts in four and one-third innings. Finally, in the 2002 World Series against the Giants, he had a 1–1 record with 13 strikeouts in eight and two-thirds innings. At 20 years old, he became the youngest ever to win a World Series game.

In 2003, Rodriguez became a setup man. He gave up an earned run in 9 of his first 15 games, but rebounded to only allow 9 in his last 44 appearances.

In 2004, Rodriguez was selected for the All-Star Game. On August 24, 2004, he became the sixth pitcher in the Angels' 44-year history to strike out at least 100 batters in a season without starting a game - joining Mark Clear (105 in 1980), DeWayne Buice (109, 1987), Bryan Harvey (101, 1991), Troy Percival (100, 1996), and Scot Shields (109, also in 2004).

Transition to closer (2005-07)

Entering the 2005 season, veteran Angels closer Troy Percival departed as a free agent which allowed Rodriguez to become the Angels' full-time closer. Rodriguez ended the season tied for the American League lead in saves with 45.

Rodriguez improved on his share of the 2005 American League saves title by leading the Majors in 2006 with 47 saves, one more than the National League leader Trevor Hoffman and six more than American League runner-up Bobby Jenks. On September 10 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he became the youngest closer in Major League Baseball history, at age 24, to accumulate 100 career saves. He accomplished this feat a year younger than the previous record holder, Gregg Olson.

At the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, Rodriguez was named as one of three Angels to represent the club, along with teammates Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey. Rodriguez recorded the save as the American League defeated the National League, 5-4.

Single-season saves record (2008)

Rodriguez received his second career DHL Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award after posting 11 saves in 12 appearances during the month of June.[1] Rodriguez set a major league record by recording his 35th save before the All-Star Break, breaking the previous record of 34 set by John Smoltz in 2003.[2] He was a member of the American League All-Star Team for the third time and made a brief appearance in the game, facing two batters while walking one.[3] On August 20, 2008, he set both his and the Angels single season record with his 48th save.[4] With his 50th save on August 24, 2008, Rodriguez became the first relief pitcher to reach that number since Mariano Rivera in 2004 and the ninth overall.[5] He was also the youngest pitcher to ever reach that number at 26 years, 7 months, and 17 days. In addition, he reached that milestone in 129 team games, faster than any pitcher in history.[6] With three saves during the week of August 18–24, including the milestone of number 50, Rodriguez was awarded the American League Player of the Week for the first time in his career.[7]

On September 2, 2008, Rodriguez saved his 200th career game (54th of the season), becoming the youngest player in history to reach that number.[8] On September 10, 2008, while facing the New York Yankees, Rodriguez saved his 56th game of the season and clinched the American League Western Division title for the Angels.[9] On September 11, 2008, while facing the Seattle Mariners, Rodriguez saved his 57th game of the season, tying Bobby Thigpen's 1990 major league record.[10]

On September 13, 2008, while again facing the Mariners, Rodriguez recorded his 58th save of the season, setting a new MLB record.[11] On September 20, 2008, Rodriguez became the first pitcher to reach 60 saves in a season when he closed out a 7-3 victory against the Texas Rangers.[12]

Rodriguez finished his record-setting 2008 regular season performance with 62 saves in 69 opportunities, appearing in a total of 76 games. It was his fourth consecutive season of recording at least 40 saves.[13] He finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting and sixth in AL Most Valuable Player Award voting.[14][15]

New York Mets

On December 10, 2008, Rodriguez signed a three-year, $37 million contract with the New York Mets.[16] Rodriguez, who had worn number 57 for his entire career, switched to number 75, as Mets ace Johan Santana currently wears number 57.[17] On April 6, 2009, Rodriguez recorded his first save as a Met against the Cincinnati Reds.

On May 24, 2009, Rodriguez suffered a back injury and was taken to a local Boston hospital where he was given medication for the pain.[18] He returned to the team the next day.[18]

He was selected to play in the 2009 All-Star game and pitched a scoreless 9th inning.

On September 30, 2009, Rodriguez gave up a walk-off grand slam to Justin Maxwell to cap a five-run ninth inning that lifted the Washington Nationals to a 7-4 victory over the Mets. This made him the first pitcher to allow two walk-off grand slams in one season since Lee Smith in 1995 (on August 7, Rodriguez surrended a grand slam to Everth Cabrera with no outs to cap another five-run ninth inning that gave the San Diego Padres a 6-2 win over the Mets).

Rodriguez finished the 2009 season with 35 saves in 42 opportunities, his fifth consecutive season of 30 or more saves.

So far K-Rod has Pink eye and he has not reported to Mets Camp yet.

Pitches

Rodríguez pitching at Citi Field on June 25, 2009.

Rodriguez throws a fastball that has consistently reached 91-94 mph, but generally throws it away from the strike zone to get batters off balance. However, unlike many closers, he utilizes the breaking ball as his primary pitch. His breaking ball comes in two varieties—a hard curve which appears to be a strike and suddenly breaks down and out of the strike zone (often confused with a slider), and a slower, looping, more traditional curve which makes right-handed batters' knees buckle before breaking back into the strike zone. Since his faster curveball breaks so sharply into the dirt, it at times makes him vulnerable to throwing wild pitches. Rodriguez has thrown a circle changeup since the 2006 season and uses it as a strikeout pitch against left-handed batters. He has also learned now how to throw a cutter.

Introductory music

Upon exiting the bullpen, Rodriguez comes out to the tune of "Sandungueoso" by Tego Calderon.[19]

Personal life

Rodriguez's nickname of "K-Rod" became popular during the 2002 playoffs.[20] It is a take-off on "A-Rod," the nickname of baseball star Alex Rodriguez, with "K" representing the common abbreviation for strikeout.

Rodriguez is a practitioner of the Santería religion.[21]

Rodriguez plays every year in the Venezuelan Winter League with Tiburones de La Guaira as a closer, wearing number 57, as he did with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In addition, Rodriguez has competed in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Venezuelan team with his teammate Johan Santana.

Rodriguez's wife gave birth to twins named Angeline and Francisco on September 15, 2009.[22]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Press Release: Francisco Rodriguez Named Winner of the DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award for June". DHL.com. 2008-07-09. http://www.dhl-usa.com/about/pr/PRDetail.asp?nav=PressRoom/PressReleases&year=2008&seq=1222. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  2. ^ Baxter, Kevin (2008-07-08). "Rodriguez saves one for books". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/angels/la-sp-angels8-2008jul08,0,7588555.story. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Box Score: AL All-Stars 4, NL All-Stars 3". MLB.com. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/boxscore.jsp?gid=2008_07_15_nasmlb_aasmlb_1&c_id=mlb. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  4. ^ Digiovanna, Mike (2008-08-21). "Angels 5, Rays 4;Anderson helps Angels beat Rays, avoid sweep". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/21/sports/sp-angels21. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  5. ^ "Most Saves In A Season," ESPN.com, retrieved on 2008-09-01.
  6. ^ "Someone will be odd man out of Angels' playoff rotation," Los Angeles Times, Mike DiGiovanna, August 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-01.
  7. ^ "Rodriguez wins AL Player of Week: Righty inches closer to saves record with stellar showing," MLB.com, Shawn Shroyer, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-01.
  8. ^ "Angels keep roaring on the road: Saunders regains his command, backed by Hunter, Guerrero," MLB.com, Lyle Spencer, September 3, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-03.
  9. ^ "Angels beat Yanks, claim West: Rangers' loss clinches Halos' seventh division title," MLB.com, Lyle Spencer, September 10, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-10.
  10. ^ "K-Rod ties record as Halos survive rally: Closer finishes off Mariners to match Thigpen with 57th save," MLB.com, Lyle Spencer, September 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-12.
  11. ^ "K-Rod nabs single-season saves mark: Angels closer breaks Thigpen's 18-year record with No. 58," MLB.com, Lyle Spencer, September 13, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-13.
  12. ^ "K-Rod saves No. 60 in Angels' win: Angels closer moves closer to Cy Young consideration," MLB.com, Shawn Shroyer, September 21, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-21.
  13. ^ Francisco Rodriguez career statistics located at MLB.com
  14. ^ "Lee wins 2008 AL Cy Young Award: After pacing league in wins and ERA, lefty earns well-deserved honor," MLB.com, Jason Beck and Anthony Castrovince, November 13, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-11-15.
  15. ^ "Pedroia named AL MVP: Teammate Youkilis gets two first-place votes, finishes third," MLB.com, Ian Browne, November 18, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-11-19.
  16. ^ DiComo, Anthony. ""K-Rod 'thrilled' to officially join Mets"". http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081210&content_id=3711163&vkey=news_nym&fext=.jsp&c_id=nym. 
  17. ^ Associated Press. ""K-Rod, Mets finalize deal"". http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3760925. 
  18. ^ a b DiCome, Anthony (2009-05-24). "K-Rod Feeling Better After Back Scare; Closer Expects Quick Return After Hospital Visit Saturday". MLB.com. http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090524&content_id=4919504&vkey=news_nym&fext=.jsp&c_id=nym. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  19. ^ Penner, Mike (2008-12-10). "Totally Random". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2008/12/totally-rando-8.html. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  20. ^ Zuckerman, Mark (2002-10-22). "Angels' Rodriguez is 'unfazeable' rookie". Washington Times. 
  21. ^ Baxter, Kevin (2007-06-27). "Religion under wraps". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-santeria26jun26,1,4164424.story?coll=la-headlines-sports&ctrack=2&cset=true. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  22. ^ Rubin, Adam (2009-09-15). "K-Rod to spend night with newborn twins". NY Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/mets/2009/09/k-rod-to-spend-night-with-newb.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 

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