K-Rod moves from setup man to closer
The 35-year-old Percival was 2-3 with 33 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 52 games last season. He ranked fourth in the AL in saves, and had 30 or more for the seventh consecutive season, the longest such streak by an active pitcher.
"As much as I would love to finish my career with the Angels, I realize that a club is best suited with only one closer," Percival said Tuesday in a statement issued by the team.
The move was not a surprise. The right-hander had already filed for free agency after 10 seasons with the Angels.
Rodriguez, who turns 23 in January, was used mostly as a setup man the last two years. He was 4-1 with 12 saves and a 1.82 ERA in 69 games in 2004, his second full season in the major leagues. The Angels won the AL West title before losing to Boston in the first round of the playoffs.
"I have the utmost respect for Francisco Rodriguez and what he has accomplished in such a short period of time," Percival said. "I look forward to watching the progress of his career in the years ahead."
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman credited Percival for mentoring Rodriguez, who became the youngest pitcher to win a World Series game in 2002, when Anaheim won the championship.
"We've been fortunate to have two closers in our bullpen, one who ranks among the best all-time, and the other whose future in that role is ahead of him," Stoneman said. "We now believe Francisco is ready to assume the role of closer for our ballclub."
Rodriguez probably will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2005 season.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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