PITTSBURGH -- Reliever Francisco Rodriguez celebrated his 10-year Major League anniversary on Tuesday. What does the milestone mean to him? "I'm getting old," Rodriguez said, and laughed.
"No, it's a blessing," he added. "I was talking to my mom and my cousin, and I said, 'Time is flying by.'" Rodriguez made his debut on Sept. 18, 2002, for the Angels against the A's, striking out a pair of batters in a scoreless inning. He was so good in his first five games -- 13 strikeouts, three hits and no runs -- that the Angels included him on their postseason roster, and he helped the team win the World Series by striking out 28 in 18 2/3 innings. And K-Rod was born. "We brought him up, and he was nasty. Unhittable," said manager Ron Roenicke, who was an Angels coach at the time. The question now is where Rodriguez, 30, goes from here. He has not been a regular closer since July 2011, when the Brewers acquired him from the Mets and made him a setup man. He is attempting to finish strong in his most trying season, one in which he has posted the worst ERA (4.78 through his first 70 appearances), walks plus hits per inning pitched (1.453) and strikeout rate (8.9 per nine innings) of his career. He is a free agent at season's end and will seek a closer's job somewhere. He has 294 career saves. "If he is throwing like he was all of last year, and like he has thrown recently, I would have no problem at all [making him a closer]," Roenicke said.