Fernando Rodney is not sure when he’ll have a chance to shoot his imaginary arrow, his celebratory move following a save, in the near future.
“We save the arrow for the postseason,” he joked.
For now, Rodney is enjoying life as a setup man on the hottest team in baseball. Since the Twins dealt Rodney to Oakland on Aug. 9 in exchange for minor league righthander Dakota Chalmers, he’s made six scoreless appearances for the Athletics, who are 53-0 when leading after seven innings.
“He’s been absolutely terrific,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “For a guy that used to pitch in the ninth inning we’ve asked him to do some different things here, and he’s had absolutely no problem with it. He just wants to come in and contribute however he can. He’s got a really good personality to him and has fit in really well with the guys.”
The Oakland bullpen is anchored by closer Blake Treinen, who has 32 saves. Jeurys Familia, who had 17 saves for the Mets, arrived in a trade July 21, and the reliable Shawn Kelley was acquired Aug. 5 from the Nationals. Add Rodney, and there’s different degrees of power and nastiness Oakland can throw at opponents in the late innings.
“There’s a lot of talent in the bullpen,” Rodney said. “I’m chilling. I’m relaxing. No pressure on myself because we’ve got Familia, we’ve got all these guys that have got stuff to close the game and to beat Houston.”
Slumping Sano sits
Mired in a 0-for-15 slump during which he has struck out seven times, Miguel Sano was held out of the starting lineup Thursday against Oakland.
Sano hit .306 in his previous nine games before the slide, so the slump has derailed a good run in his attempt to salvage a season in which he landed on the disabled list and spent a month in the minors getting in shape.
Twins manager Paul Molitor pointed out that Sano had played in 23 of 24 games since his return to the majors, and figured it was a good time for him to take a breather.
“And we’ve been pushing him,” Molitor said. “He’s played a lot. I thought more than anything, his bat looked a little bit tired the last couple of games, a little bit later than we’ve seen recognition. He’s started to try to cheat to catch up, and then he started chasing a little bit more.”
Molitor told Sano not to get down on himself and to be ready if a pinch-hitting opportunity presented itself.
Minor league promotion
Lefthander Andrew Vasquez was promoted from Class AA Chattanooga to Class AAA Rochester — and is a relief prospect worth keeping an eye on.
Vasquez, who will be 25 next month, was drafted in the 32nd round in 2015. His fastball tops out in the low 90 mph range, but his money pitch is a slider that has been unhittable most of the season. He started at Class A Fort Myers, posting a 1.38 ERA in 19 games. In 17 games at Chattanooga. he posted a 1.16 ERA.
At the two stops, Vasquez struck out 96 batters in 63 ⅔ innings. He worked on his control at Chattanooga, walking four batters in 31 innings while posting a ridiculous strikeout rate of 17.1 per nine innings.
By design, outfielder Byron Buxton was not in the lineup for Class AAA Rochester on Thursday. He’s expected to play Friday as he tries to finish the season strong. Buxton was 0-for-4 on Wednesday but is batting .290 since coming off the disabled list. He had a sore wrist.