K-Rod 'not happy,' wants some save chances

K-Rod 'not happy,' wants some save chances

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not back down Wednesday from comments indicating dissatisfaction with his role as the club's setup man.

Rodriguez says he was promised by Milwaukee officials that he would share duties with incumbent closer John Axford. But Axford is 19-for-19 in save opportunities since the Brewers acquired Rodriguez from the Mets on the night of the All-Star Game, and, as of Wednesday afternoon, Rodriguez was still waiting for his first opportunity.

He expressed displeasure about that fact to CBS Sportsline's Scott Miller on Tuesday, a sentiment he has expressed previously but not as strongly. Rodriguez reiterated that displeasure to the team's regular beat reporters on Wednesday.

"There's been plenty of save opportunities," Rodriguez said. "And I've only pitched once in the ninth inning, and it was not even a save opportunity. I'm not happy. It's simple. That's the bottom line. They told me one thing, they haven't done it, and that's pretty much what I said. I stand by what I said."

He added: "Don't tell me something if you're not going to do it. That's what irritates me most. They told me they were going to do something, and they didn't. Simple as that. I'm trying to pretty much come in every day ready to pitch and get my job done where they need me. At the same time, I had an expectation, like every other player. They told me they were going to do something and never did it. That's why I can be a little disappointed by the situation.

"But, the season is over in two weeks, and we need to win eight more games. So, I'll go as hard as I can these next two series coming up, and try to wrap them up. That's the most important thing."

Rodriguez conceded he should be discussing the matter not with reporters but with manager Ron Roenicke, a chat that had yet to happen as the Brewers took the field for batting practice on Wednesday afternoon.

Roenicke, who was with the Angels alongside Rodriguez from 2002-07, praised Rodriguez's performance and professionalism through what is admittedly a complicated arrangement. Rodriguez is one of baseball's most prideful and accomplished closers, with a Major League record 62 saves in 2008 and 291 saves in 10 Major League seasons. He was having a fine season for the Mets, converting 23 of 26 save opportunities before the trade.

Displeased or not, Rodriguez has continued to pitch well for Milwaukee, with a 2.31 ERA in 25 appearances.

Roenicke said the two were due for a talk.

"He's a closer," Roenicke said with a shrug. "So, when I don't have him in those situations when there's opportunities for him, it bothers him. Does it bother him to the point where it affects anything going on here? I don't think so. At least it hasn't so far."

"I can't blame him for wanting to be a closer," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "Anybody that sees him should think he could be a closer. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he seemed to be OK. The focus is on winning."

The Mets-Brewers trade came together in a 12-hour flurry on July 15, with the Mets exchanging Rodriguez's salary for two mid-level prospects. The Brewers' intention was to use Rodriguez to close when Axford had pitched several days in a row and needed a break. In practice, Rodriguez has almost always pitched the eighth inning in front of Axford, and only once has Axford pitched three consecutive days.

That was Aug. 26-28, a series against the Cubs followed by a team off-day.

The current flap comes at an inopportune time for the Brewers, who entered Wednesday with a 6 1/2-game lead in the National League Central and a magic number of eight to clinch the division.

"Look, I don't think it is a distraction," Roenicke said. "I hear what he's saying, but I also know that anytime somebody comes to you and you want to honestly tell them what's on your mind, it may come out in a way that looks selfish. But I didn't take it that way, and, knowing Frankie, I definitely don't take it that way. That's who Frankie is -- he's going to be honest. He wants to close. There's no way he meant that on a negative way to try to distract and have some negative things come to this team. No way."

Rodriguez will be a free agent at season's end if the Brewers decline their half of his $17.5 million mutual option for 2012. The club would owe Rodriguez a $4 million buyout.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.