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Angels' Fernando Rodney frustrated with lack of playing time

ANGELS FYI

The relief pitcher, who opened the season as the Angels' closer, entered Friday having pitched twice this month. Rodney has asked to be traded.

September 23, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels reliever Fernando Rodney reacts after walking Toronto's Yunel Escobar in the 10th inning of a game last month.
Angels reliever Fernando Rodney reacts after walking Toronto's… (Darren Calabrese / Associated…)

Fernando Rodney has met with Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher several times to inquire about his disappearing relief role. He was so frustrated a few weeks ago, he asked General Manager Tony Reagins for a trade.

"I'm mad — I'm really mad," Rodney said Friday. "I told them if they're not going to use me, trade me. They say no, we need you for this year."

They have a funny way of showing it. Rodney, who opened the season as the Angels' closer and spent most of the first half as a setup man, entered Friday having pitched twice this month.

The hard-throwing right-hander lost his ninth-inning job to rookie Jordan Walden after blowing a save in the season opener. When he returned from an upper back strain that sidelined him for six weeks in June and July, Rodney lost the strike zone.

As Rodney struggled with his command — he has more walks (28) than strikeouts (26) in 39 games and has compiled a 4.50 earned-run average — Scioscia lost faith in the pitcher, so much so that Rodney rarely appears in games that aren't blowouts.

In Thursday night's crushing 4-3, 12-inning loss in Toronto, Scioscia used journeyman left-hander Horacio Ramirez and rookie right-hander Garrett Richards in extra innings instead of Rodney.

"They think I can't pitch anymore," Rodney, 34, said. "I think I can, but there's nothing you can do. Why they lost confidence in me, I don't know. It started when I blew that first game in Kansas City."

With Scott Downs locking down the setup role in front of Walden and Bobby Cassevah and Hisanori Takahashi pitching effectively, for the most part, in the sixth and seventh innings, there has been little need for Rodney.

"He's shown some good stuff with a lack of command," Scioscia said of Rodney. "We had guys who were pitching with more consistency, and some roles got reversed. We have to go with the guys who are throwing the ball with consistency.

"His year has been a bit disappointing. It's tough for him, and it's tough for us, because we had high expectations coming in."

Rodney's two-year, $11-million contract expires after this season, and there is no interest on either side for him to return.

Rodney, who went 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA and 14 saves for the Angels last season, remains confident he will pitch again in 2012. Asked where that would be, he said, "Not here."

Red eyes

The Angels flew overnight from Toronto to Los Angeles after Thursday night's loss, which closed a 10-game trip. The team charter landed at LAX at about 3 a.m. After a bus ride to Anaheim, most players didn't get home until after 4:30 a.m.

"It affects everybody," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "Your body swells up on the plane. Any injury you have is aggravated. Travel can be hard. You get in late, there's a time change, everything is working against you. That's why we drink coffee. That's why they make Red Bull."

Short hops

Right-hander Dan Haren, who took a wicked line drive off his left wrist Wednesday in Toronto, said he is "100% and good to go" for Monday night's start against Texas. … Right-hander Trevor Bell is in negotiations with La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League and expects to pitch for the team this off-season. "If can go there and start, get 40-50 innings, that would be great," he said.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

twitter.com/MikeDiGiovanna

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