Fernando Rodney's struggles throw closing job up for grabs in Angels spring training camp
From Troy Percival to Francisco Rodriguez to Brian Fuentes, there hasn't been a year since Mike Scioscia became Angels manager in 2000 that he has entered a season without a clear-cut closer.
That is not the case this spring. Scioscia made it clear Tuesday morning that Fernando Rodney, who had a 5.65 earned run average and four blown saves after replacing Fuentes in the last month of last season, is not his clear-cut closer entering 2011.
"We have guys to pitch at the back end of games, and Fernando is one of them," Scioscia said. "If he does what he did the first half of last season, when he was lights out, then obviously it's going to get our bullpen lined up the way we need it to. If there's things we need to adjust from, we will.
"We have some power arms from the right side and some balance on the left, and any one of five guys have the ability to get the last out of a game."
If Rodney, who was slowed by shin splints in camp last spring and struggled with some mechanical problems during the season, struggles, right-hander Kevin Jepsen and left-hander Scott Downs would probably be the next in line to close.
Scioscia also thinks right-handers Jordan Walden and Michael Kohn have the ability to close, but neither has much big-league experience, and it's doubtful either would be thrust into the role. However, Hisanori Takahashi, the left-hander who was signed as a free agent over the winter, did close for the New York Mets for a few weeks last season.
"Fernando will pitch at the back end of the gam -- we need him -- and if that's as a closer, great," Scioscia said. "If it's the eighth inning, like it was for most of last year, so be it."
--Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.