MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers activated closer Jim Henderson from the disabled list Sunday morning, but did not designate him the closer. Instead that role will stay for the time being with Francisco Rodriguez, who entered the day two saves shy of 300 for his career.
But the decision was not just about milestones, manager Ron Roenicke said.
"I talked to Jimmy when he came back," Roenicke said, "about maybe getting an inning in somewhere else, for two reasons. One, he could be a little rusty. And the other is, I know he threw an inning in Appleton [home of the Brewers' Class A club], but sometimes it's a little different intensity when you're here and you've got a closing situation. I don't want him to [get hurt] again."
At the same time, "Frankie is throwing the ball well enough that I have no problem with him being our closer right now. I don't want to do this just because of numbers. I want to do this because he's throwing well enough to where we're good having him [close games] for a while and maybe Henderson is in the eighth a couple of times."
Rodriguez was appreciative of the opportunity. He logged 23 saves for the Mets during the first half of the 2011 season, leaving him nine shy of 300 for his career, and he had a partial no-trade clause, or at least he thought. Instead, that paperwork was not filed properly, and the Mets were able to surprise Rodriguez with a trade to Milwaukee on the night of the All-Star Game. Rodriguez would spend the second half of 2011, and most of 2012, as a setup man to Brewers closer John Axford.
He was given an opportunity to close games last July, but blew a pair of saves in Philadelphia and was replaced, then jettisoned via free agency. But the Brewers re-signed him in April to a Minor League contract, promoted him to the Majors in May and, with Rodriguez pitching well, presented him with another opportunity last month when Henderson hit the DL with a strained hamstring.
Saturday marked his fourth successful save in as many chances since Henderson went down. He is third among active pitchers in saves and is bidding to be the 25th Major Leaguer to reach the 300 plateau.
"This is an opportunity I've waited for a long time," Rodriguez said. "Definitely, I do not want to let them down. I want to keep with what I'm doing, stay aggressive against the hitters and put them away as quickly as possible.
"I'm trying to not be too fine. I'm attacking them, pretty much, and putting them away. That's the mentality I have since I got here -- attack and put them away, nothing else."