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 Tigers ready for reunion with Rodney

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PostSubject: Tigers ready for reunion with Rodney   Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:50 pm

Tigers ready for reunion with Rodney

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

04/18/10 5:20 PM ET

SEATTLE -- The facial hair is the same. The hat looks just as crooked. Presumably, the odd sound effects are the same. And lately, even the role is the same for Angels reliever Fernando Rodney, who has been closing with Brian Fuentes on the shelf.

The uniform and the hometown, obviously, are different. Put all those factors together, and it's going to be odd for many Tigers to see Rodney on the other side when they arrive at Angel Stadium on Monday for the start of a four-game series.

Facing him could be just as different.

"We enjoyed having him," catcher Gerald Laird said. "He was a good teammate. He had to move on to another organization. That happens in this game. But it's going to be nice to see him. I'm looking forward to facing him again."

The last time the Tigers saw Rodney, he was in his fourth inning of work in the American League Central tiebreaker against the Twins in October. His last pitch for the Tigers, rightly or not, was the one Alexi Casilla singled into right field for the division-winning run.

Two months later, he signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Angels. The Tigers had negotiations with him, but never budged off a one-year offer.

Manager Jim Leyland will remember that last game for a long time when he thinks of Rodney, but he'll remember it for the right reasons, starting with the fact that he wanted to be in the game that long.

"I'll never forget that last game in Minnesota: 'One more! One more!'" Leyland recalled. "He was something else. He was greatly appreciated."

To play alongside Rodney was to get to know his odd personality, which included several voices and impressions that would get his teammates cracking up. Sometimes, it was as simple -- and as odd -- as a bird noise at a completely random moment.

It would be hard to find a teammate who doesn't remember his personality. But it was a different personality once he got to the mound.

"He was a fun guy," Leyland said. "He was a witty guy. But he was a tenacious guy on the mound."

That likely won't change going up against his former squad. If he has to face his ex-teammates, it most likely means the Tigers are trailing in the ninth inning, where Rodney -- as wild as he was -- was reliable in converting save chances, going 37-for-38.

For all the walks and the much-needed double plays, the Tigers never lost a game last year that they led going into the ninth inning.

"He's a real warrior," Leyland said. "I love him. He was a real trooper for us. I'm happy for him. He got a good deal, he's in a good spot."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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