Reporting from Oakland -- With a name like Francisco Rodriguez and the job of Angels relief pitcher, you better be good. The namesake of the team's former closer, who calls himself "the Mexican Francisco Rodriguez," has not disappointed.
The Angels, who were having trouble finding relievers who could throw strikes and get outs, recalled Rodriguez from triple-A Salt Lake in late May. Entering Wednesday, the 27-year-old right-hander had not allowed an earned run in 7 1/3 innings of six appearances.
Equally impressive: Rodriguez, who walked 194 in 391 2/3 minor league innings from 2006 to 2009, has not walked a batter, while striking out nine and giving up only three hits.
"I was working on my fastball command in the minor leagues, and I'm doing better with that," Rodriguez said. "When I'm hitting my spots with the fastball, the cut fastball and curve work better."
Rodriguez, who was called up April 14, made his big league debut the next day and was sent back to Salt Lake on April 20, called it a "thrill" to be in the same bullpen as Scot Shields and Brian Fuentes. But he is no longer in that just-happy-to-be-here mode.
With a 94-mph fastball and a nice mix of secondary pitches, Rodriguez, who signed with the Angels after spending six years in the Mexican winter and summer leagues, has played his way into a more prominent role.
"He's really given our bullpen a shot in the arm," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Rodriguez met the original Francisco Rodriguez, the former Angels closer who is now with the New York Mets, in spring training in 2006 but said he does not feel any pressure to fill his shoes.
"It's kind of funny being here with the same team and the same name and following those big footprints he left," Rodriguez said. "But I'm not trying to be like him. He's a great reliever. I really enjoy watching him pitch."
All in the family
Among the Angels' picks on the final day of the draft Wednesday were Central Arizona junior college pitcher Andrew Schugel, the son of Angels major league scout Jeff Schugel, and Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) JC third baseman Kenny Hatcher, nephew of Angels batting coach Mickey Hatcher.
The Angels chose 55 players in all and had five of the top 40 picks, including first-round selections Kaleb Cowart (18th overall), Cameron Bedrosian (29th) and Chevy Clarke (30th).
"Every team thinks they had a great draft when you walk out of the room, and we do too," Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. "We'll know in a few years, but I'm happy with it."
Infielder Maicer Izturis, who missed games Sunday and Monday night because of a sore knee but played Tuesday night, did not start Wednesday night, but he is scheduled to play Thursday. "We wanted to split up the night-day games," Scioscia said.
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