Rhodes knows his true value is setting up
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Arthur Rhodes has accepted that his new career as a closer is over for now.
The Oakland Athletics have made Octavio Dotel their ninth-inning man, acquiring the 30-year-old right-hander from Houston in a three-team trade Thursday. Dotel is expected to be in uniform for Saturday's middle game of a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants.
"I'm not relieved. I'm disappointed," said Rhodes, who had blown five of 14 save chances and had a 5.28 ERA. "Hey, they got to do what they got to do. I've been struggling in the closer role. They go out and get somebody and, hey, I tip my hat to them. They're not going to let me sit out there and struggle all the time and pitch bad the whole rest of the season. ... I'm back in the setup role, where I'm better at."
Rhodes was a setup man in Seattle before signing a $9.2 million, three-year contract in December to replace Keith Foulke, who left for a big-money deal with the Boston Red Sox. The A's were hoping they'd be able to count on the same pitcher to finish games for at least a couple of seasons, but it didn't happen.
Jim Mecir and Chad Bradford also handled some of the closer duties -- and they, too, had trouble. On the team's recent road trip, the bullpen was 0-3 and managed one save in four opportunities, compiling a 10.59 ERA (20 earned runs in 17 innings) in nine games.
|“||They're not going to let me sit out there and struggle all the time and pitch bad the whole rest of the season. ... I'm back in the setup role, where I'm better at. ”|
|— Arthur Rhodes|
"Every year before the [trading] deadline the A's have done something to strengthen the team," Mecir said. "[The bullpen] has been a weak spot. All relievers are supposed to be ready all the time. If you do know your role it makes you more comfortable. It's a mental boost."
Rhodes claims the team didn't warn him about being replaced.
"Nobody said nothing," he said.
Yet A's assistant general manager David Forst said GM Billy Beane had spoken to Rhodes about the development.
"My guess is he'll be comfortable going back to what he knows," Forst said of Rhodes.
Dotel is 0-4 with a 3.12 ERA and 14 saves in 17 chances in his first year as a closer following Houston's offseason trade of All-Star Billy Wagner to Philadelphia. The four losses have all come at home, where Dotel has a 3.72 ERA. He has been tougher away from hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park with a 2.35 ERA.
Dotel is a hard thrower with 50 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.
He has spent five of his six major league seasons with the Astros, so Dotel had mixed emotions about leaving. He told reporters he was excited to be wanted by the A's and hopes to fit in right away.
"You've got a lot of relationships you have," A's manager Ken Macha said, understanding Dotel's situation. "Who knows, after two weeks he might be very happy he's here."
His new teammates are excited to have him.
"I think it's really going to put a lot of people in places they can succeed," said Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, who is working his way back from a broken hand. "We're right there, as bad as we're playing. This will lift us up."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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