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Rodriguez answers detractors

May 19, 2008|Bill Shaikin and Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writers

Francisco Rodriguez blew a save one week into the season, and he worked one 1-2-3 inning in his first nine appearances.

But the Angels' closer has not blown another save. He leads the major leagues with 17 saves, in 18 chances. In his last 11 innings, he has given up one run, six hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

He has not forgotten his detractors, those who wondered whether the dominance would return.

"A lot of people panicked when I blew the save," Rodriguez said. "I know what I'm capable of. I work hard every day, like I always do."

Rodriguez led the American League in saves in 2005 and 2006. He said he has no particular goal this season.

"Stay healthy, I guess," he said. "I don't have to prove to anybody what I can do. I've already proved it."

He said he does not worry about a potential salary drive, about a pending free agency that could land him a long-term contract for perhaps $15 million per year.

"What happens after the season is going to happen," he said. "It's hard not to think about it, but I don't really pay attention to it."


Ask Jason Schmidt about any aspect of his recovery from shoulder surgery, with one exception.

"Don't ask me about velocity," said Schmidt, who did not appear to be joking. "The next guy that asks me about velocity, I'm not going to do another interview for the rest of the year."

Schmidt's fastball velocity fell from 95 mph during his peak years to 90 mph in his last year with the San Francisco Giants to 85 mph last spring, after the Dodgers signed him to a three-year, $47-million contract.

He underwent shoulder surgery and is now on a rehabilitation assignment. He was clocked from 86 to 90 mph Saturday, when he threw 34 pitches over 2 1/3 innings -- all fastballs and changeups -- for Class-A Inland Empire. He is expected to make another rehabilitation start this week.


For the second time in three games, Dodgers backup catcher Gary Bennett had a play at first base but overthrew the base.

Manager Joe Torre suggested that the problem was mental. Bennett has appeared in only 10 games this season and was working on his throwing in the bullpen.

"Sometimes when you think about something you never pay attention to, that's what causes the problem," Torre said. "If you trip going down the steps and you start thinking about walking down the steps, you're probably going to trip again.

"It sounds simple and I feel for him and he's certainly aware of it. It's just something again that we have to fix."


Nomar Garciaparra's recovery from a strained left calf appears to have stalled, and the Dodgers third baseman is scheduled to undergo a battery of tests this week.

"This thing just won't go away," Torre said. "He's tried to run and jog and it's still there. . . . Hopefully, this week we'll have some kind of idea where we are with him."


Double-A Jacksonville recently aligned its rotation so the Dodgers would have the option of calling up top prospect Clayton Kershaw to pitch in Anaheim over the weekend. The Dodgers passed.

In seven appearances before the Dodgers indicated they would consider the promotion, Kershaw gave up four earned runs in 33 1/3 innings. In two appearances since then, he has given up seven earned runs in 11 innings.


Torre said he was optimistic that shortstop Rafael Furcal (back) could return as soon as Friday. . . . The Angels hope to activate third baseman Chone Figgins (hamstring) this week, but second baseman Howie Kendrick (hamstring) is at least a week away and maybe more. Kendrick has not played since April 13. . . . The Dodgers' Esteban Loaiza (shoulder) is scheduled to throw 40 to 45 pitches in a rehabilitation game tonight for Inland Empire. . . . Dustin Moseley (forearm tightness) gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings for triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday, and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Moseley would make at least one more rehabilitation appearance.


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