Closer Rodney ready for start of season

Closer Rodney ready for start of season

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Fernando Rodney is scheduled to pitch an inning on Wednesday, and another on Saturday, and that will be it for the Rays closer before the team opens the season April 2 in a late-afternoon contest against the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

Rodney missed much of Spring Training while becoming a national hero in the Dominican Republic. The veteran right-hander helped lead his native country to its first World Baseball Classic championship.

Rodney recorded the final out in all eight of the D.R.'s games -- all wins, which were played over the course of 13 days.

His eight appearances and seven saves set Classic records. All told, he allowed no runs on one hit, three walks and he struck out eight in 7 1/3 innings. For his excellence, Rodney earned All-World Baseball Classic team honors.

Rays manager Joe Maddon wanted to make sure Rodney got some rest before starting the regular season. Rodney did throw a bullpen on Sunday, and he noted that he feels "great."

"I'm ready to go," he said.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.