Rodriguez’s job not in jeopardy

Times Staff Writer

Struggling closer Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t need to worry about suffering the same fate as recently demoted setup man Scot Shields, even though Rodriguez has blown four saves in 14 appearances since July 25.

“I don’t think we’re at that point,” Manager Mike Scioscia said before the Angels played the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night at Angel Stadium. “Frankie’s been a little bit inconsistent, but he’s still been getting it done at the rate we need.”

Pitching coach Mike Butcher said the leadoff homer that Rodriguez surrendered to Cleveland’s Ryan Garko in the ninth inning Friday was on a good pitch that was knee-high on the outside corner of the plate. The Indians went on to load the bases with two out on two walks and an error before Shields relieved Rodriguez and escaped the jam.

Butcher described any adjustments that needed to be made by Rodriguez as “very minor” and said the right-hander, whose 34 saves are tied for fourth in the American League, would continue in his current role.


“He’s got confidence and we have confidence in him and fully expect him to go out there and do the job when the phone rings for him,” Butcher said.

Rodriguez, who has a 6.23 earned-run average in his last nine outings, initially brushed off reporters who approached to ask about his ineffectiveness.

“I’m not getting the job done,” Rodriguez said. “That’s all you guys want to hear. That’s all I’ve got to say. Thank you.”

Rodriguez later appeared to soften, calling one reporter who regularly covers the team over to his clubhouse locker for a lengthy discussion.


“He’s a little out of sync,” Scioscia said. “Mike’s been talking to him, and I think it’s just a rhythm and tempo thing to let his mechanics fall back into where he needs to be, and he’ll find it.”

As expected, Chone Figgins was out of the lineup against Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia and will miss another start today against Indians left-hander Aaron Laffey.

The switch-hitting Figgins will not start against left-handers until he is comfortable swinging a bat right-handed, a process that could take at least several more days. Figgins, who returned Friday from a bruised left wrist that had sidelined him for 2 1/2 weeks, has begun swinging off a tee right-handed and is scheduled to resume batting practice from that side of the plate Tuesday.

Figgins, baseball’s top hitter since May 31 with a .403 average, didn’t miss a beat in his first game back Friday, collecting three hits and scoring all three of the Angels’ runs in a 3-2 victory.


“The guys wouldn’t be too happy if I came in and didn’t help after the way they had been playing,” Figgins said. “It was good to get back in there and be on the same track.”

A CT scan on Vladimir Guerrero’s right elbow showed tendinitis in the area, and the right fielder sat out a third consecutive game. Scioscia said Guerrero might not return until the Angels open a series in Baltimore on Tuesday. . . . Center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., who was hitting .172 during the first eight games of the current homestand, was given the day off “to recharge a little bit,” Scioscia said, and might get today off as well to forge a three-day break with the team’s off day on Monday. Reggie Willits replaced Matthews in center field. . . . Bartolo Colon “threw the ball well” during a bullpen session Saturday, Butcher said, but the Angels still have not decided when to fold the right-hander back into their rotation. . . . The Angels will play the National League East in interleague play next year, according to a team spokesman.