Fernando Rodney ‘OK’ in spring debut with Mariners
Fernando Rodney, the Mariners’ new closer, pitched an inning Thursday, his first Cactus League appearance. He allowed a run and two hits and said he felt “great.”
Seattle Times staff reporter
GLENDALE, Ariz. — There was no trademark pull and fire of the imaginary bow and arrow for Fernando Rodney at the end of the Mariners’ 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday at Camelback Ranch.
Rodney’s debut as a Mariner was done five innings earlier. He’d already pitched his inning, giving up a run on two hits, did wind sprints on the warning track for two innings and was headed home by the time the game ended.
It wasn’t a save situation, and Rodney wasn’t quite as dominant as he can be. But it still was a solid debut.
Manager Lloyd McClendon had no complaints.
“He did OK,” he said. “He threw the ball very well, and the ball came out good. He made some good pitches. He found the small end of the bat a couple times where they got hits. But I was really happy with the way he came out.”
Rodney was satisfied.
“It felt great,” he said. “More importantly was the good fastball location for my first outing. I got down in the counts but I came back and got the guy out. The next step will be better.”
The steps have been slow thus far for Rodney. While many other relievers have made multiple appearances this spring, Rodney prepared at a slower pace.
“That’s normal,” he said.
McClendon hasn’t been bothered by the regimen.
“It’s a typical closer type of spring,” McClendon said. “They don’t need many innings, and most of them don’t want many innings and they usually find a way to start late. He’s no different than the rest of them.”
But Rodney also has ulterior motives based on last season. The numbers were solid. He saved 37 games while posting a 5-4 record with a 3.38 earned-run average. But he struggled early in the season. Rodney pitched in the winter league in the Dominican Republic, pitched in the Caribbean World Series and then helped lead the Dominican Republic to the World Baseball Classic title, saving seven games.
“I threw a lot,” he said. “I think I was a little tired early in the season.”
Rodney was much better after the All-Star break. He posted a 1.88 ERA with 46 strikeouts over his final 39 appearances (381 / 3 innings).
“This year is going to be different,” he said. “I’m going to be more fresh now.”
Walker takes first step in recovery
Taijuan Walker played catch Thursday for the first time since being shut down with inflammation in the bursa of his throwing shoulder last week. He tossed with Mark Rogers for about three minutes from roughly 60 feet.
“It felt really good,” Walker said. “It was only 60 feet, so I’m not really getting out there, but it was like a test to see how it felt and it went well.”
Feeling good means?
“It feels normal,” he said.
And that’s what the Mariners want to hear. Admittedly, Walker had some anxiety.
“I was a little nervous about it, especially being out seven days and not really knowing what to expect,” he said. “But I was pretty happy with the results.”
Walker said he was happy to be doing something other than receiving treatment.
“It sucks being out for any period of time,” he said. “Seven days felt like months. I was getting bored. I was looking forward to this day all week. I can’t imagine being out for longer.”
It’s the first step in a long road back for Walker. There will be more catch sessions — he’ll throw from 75 feet on Friday — that must be pain-free before he moves up to long toss. There must be multiple pain-free long-toss sessions before he moves to bullpen sessions.
“It’s mentally tough because you really want to be out there and you really want to push through it,” he said. “At the same time, you know you have to take it slow.”
• Last year’s first-round draft pick, third baseman D.J. Peterson, picked up his first hit and run batted in of the spring. Peterson helped spark a three-run seventh inning that helped the Mariners take the lead for good.
“It felt awesome,” he said. “I didn’t square it up as much as I wanted to, but it felt good to get the monkey off my back.”
Peterson will likely start for the Mariners in one of their split-squad games Saturday.
• A day after dropping a fly ball, outfielder Xavier Avery made a brilliant diving catch in the first inning, stealing a sure double from Adam Dunn.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish