Offseason work paid off for Rodney

Offseason work paid off for Rodney

CHICAGO -- Fernando Rodney earned his 46th save Thursday night, breaking Rafael Soriano's club mark of 45 set in 2010.

The accomplishment was just the latest milestone reached by Rodney, whose career appeared headed in another direction at the end of last season.

Rodney accrued just three saves last season and 17 total over the past two seasons before coming to the Rays as a free agent prior to the 2012 season.

When Kyle Farnsworth, the Rays' 2011 closer, began the season on the disabled list, Rodney was given a shot to become the team's closer and the rest is history.

"It's something I did, I didn't have a plan to do this this year," Rodney said. "I had the opportunity to prove to [Rays manager Joe Maddon] that I can pitch at this level in this game. And it happened."

Rodney smiled when asked if he was surprised at what he's accomplished this season.

"I worked hard in the offseason last year," Rodney said, "so I could get an opportunity to trust the stuff I have and be in the game."

Rodney is closing in on the all-time Major League mark for the lowest ERA by a reliever (minimum 50 appearances). His 0.62 ERA is third lowest in Major League history, trailing Oakland's Dennis Eckersley (0.6136 ERA, 1990) and Cleveland's Al Benton (0.6207, 1949).

Rodney would pass Eckersley's record with another 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

"Where he's come from, last year and the year before that, that's the part that's probably the most incredible," Maddon said. "To be as dominating as he is right now coming off some really tough times. It's a tribute to him, too. Opportunity was here. He seized it and he's run with it, but it's kind of amazing."