MESA, Ariz. –- In a deep A’s bullpen, Fernando Rodriguez sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
The right-hander was designated for assignment in December, so he’s not a member of Oakland’s 40-man roster. That doesn’t mean he won’t challenge for a spot in the A’s Opening Night relief corps.
Manager Bob Melvin had strong praise for Rodriguez after the right-hander impressed on the mound during Sunday’s workout.
“Just the command of heater,” Melvin said. “If he throws fastballs at the knees for strikes, he’s gonna be tough.”
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Melvin added that Rodriguez appears to be a very motivated pitcher this spring. He was designated for assignment after the A’s acquired fellow reliever Eury De La Rosa. Surely the A’s were happy to see him clear waivers. Rodriguez posted a 1.00 ERA and .129 opponents’ batting average in seven games with Oakland last year, his first season back after Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for the 2013 campaign.
It stands to reason his velocity and overall stuff might be better now that he’s two years removed from his elbow reconstruction.
CAMP BATTLE: Nothing is being promised to Josh Phegley, but the right-handed hitting catcher is the man the A’s are looking at to form a platoon behind the plate with Stephen Vogt. Acquired from the White Sox as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade, Phegley has spent parts of two seasons in the majors but has appeared in just 76 games combined.
“He’s got a great opportunity to be that guy,” Melvin said. “You never wanna give anybody anything, especially when they’re coming from a new team. And there’s not that much big league experience. But he’s got probably the best opportunity he’s ever had -- to start with a team and stick with a team.”
LIGHTER SIDE: Closer Sean Doolittle has made it to the semifinals of the “Face of MLB” contest. He’s pitted against Giants catcher Buster Posey, and online fan voting begins early Monday morning on mlbnetwork.com and continues for a 24-hour period to see who advances in the made-for-internet popularity contest.