The Norman Transcript


March 25, 2014

Ramped up relievers: From the depths of obscurity to supremacy and back



Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon likened Uehara to Fernando Rodney, who saved 37 games for Detroit in 2009, served mostly as a setup man during two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, then emerged as a top closer for the Rays before signing with Seattle. Rodney succeeded when he commanded his changeup and Uehara excelled when he mastered his splitter.

Rivera became baseball’s greatest closer because of his cutter, which shattered bats of hundreds of left-handed hitters

“I have to believe the common thread is a great other pitch, which more than likely is going to be a changeup or a split,” Maddon says. “The way that Rivera did it consistently for so many years, it seems it’s difficult today to get relief pitchers to be consistent for that many consecutive years.”

Rodney’s changeup fell into place because of a change in his mechanics.

“A pitcher always lifts his foot. So I stayed in my slide step and got the same velocity, everything the same,” he says. “I pitched really well in the Dominican Winter League and I came to spring training continuing to work. And I got a lot of positive results.”

With Rivera’s retirement, 39-year-old Joe Nathan becomes the active saves leader with 341. He’s preparing for his first season with the Tigers, a “Guys and Dolls” pairing of Nathan-Detroit.

Robertson, who turns 29 next month, has all of eight career saves to his credit. When Derek Jeter retires at the end of the season, Robertson will become the longest-tenured Yankees player if he remains with New York, by one day over outfielder Brett Gardner.

Friends have texted him congratulations on taking over Rivera’s role. He keeps saying it’s no big deal, that he’s approaching the ninth in the same manner he pitches the eighth.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • APTOPIX British Open Golf Rory McIlroy wins British Open for third major title

    HOYLAKE, England — Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf’s oldest trophy. On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson....

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kristoff wins Tour stage; Nibali keeps yellow jersey

    NIMES, France — Almost at the line, Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger were exhausted but could see it coming — their first Tour de France stage victory. Those last 50 meters, however, got in the way....

    July 21, 2014

  • Most Big 12 squads won’t shy from tough non-conference

    DALLAS — Never have the words “Final Four” been used so often at a football media gathering. Monday at Big 12 Football Media Days, the College Football Playoff was the hot topic. On Dec. 7, the 12-member panel will announce the best four ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Tour leader Nibali says he’s ‘flag-bearer’ against doping

    CARCASSONNE, France — Barring a disaster for him on French roads from now until Sunday, the man who looks set to win the Tour de France says he understands that cycling is still paying for its longtime doping plague....

    July 22, 2014

  • Commish forecasts end of college sports as we know them

    You really have to read everything Bob Bowlsby said Monday, because kicking off Big 12 Football Media Days, all the conference commissioner did was not only predict the end of college sports as we know them, but explain with fairly ...

    July 22, 2014

  • McIlroy will emerge even stronger than ever

    HOYLAKE, England — The celebration began long before Rory McIlroy had a chance to drink out of the claret jug....

    July 22, 2014

  • Petrino ushers Louisville into ACC

    GREENSBORO, N.C. — Bobby Petrino turned Louisville into a top-10 team nearly a decade ago. Now, more than two years after a scandal derailed his career, Petrino is back with the Cardinals as they enter the Atlantic Coast Conference....

    July 22, 2014

  • Bowlsby:Changes come with a price

    DALLAS — Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke in a reserved tone Monday. But what he said to begin the Big 12 Football Media Days news conference painted a bleak future for college athletics....

    July 22, 2014

  • Stewart still riding high

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tony Stewart heads into the busiest week of his year riding high from a win in his return to sprint car racing. Stewart raced in a sprint car last weekend for the first time since he broke his leg in an extracurricular ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Witness: Sterling must sell to pay debts

    LOS ANGELES — The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling’s properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell ...

    July 22, 2014