It didn't work out the way the Tigers would have scripted it.
Rodney was brought in to face the San Francisco Giants with two on and one out in in the bottom of the eighth inning and Detroit clinging to a 4-3 lead. He promptly gave up a homer to John Bowker and the Tigers trailed.
The Giants then poured it on. Two doubles and a walk later, Casey Fossum relieved Rodney, and the Tigers were on their way to an 8-6 loss.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was happy to see Rodney back on the mound.
"He threw the ball good. It was bad location. We were going for the strikeout there and we almost got it," Leyland said. "We played a good game and we had good at-bats. Our bullpen just couldn't hold it. That's all. We made bad pitches in big situations."
Before the game, Leyland wasn't sure how he'd get Rodney into the flow.
"I don't know exactly how I'll use Rodney, whether in a big-game situation," Leyland said. "I'd like to get his feet wet for an inning. It was nice to put his name on the card. It's been a while."
Rodney, a 31-year-old right-hander, had missed the entire season with shoulder problems, as has fellow set-up man Joel Zumaya. Both pitchers had been on injury rehab assignments with Triple-A Toledo.
Zumaya was scheduled to pitch Monday night for Toledo and Leyland said the hard-throwing right-hander could rejoin the Tigers by this weekend.
Before the game, Rodney was eager to get on the mound. He appeared in four games for Toledo, going 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA and eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
"I feel ready to go, whenever he gives me the ball," Rodney said. "I've shown I'm ready to go and I want to help my team win. I think this is the best time for me now because this is more the time the team needs me."
It's been a long haul for Rodney getting back. An initial MRI exam showed inflammation in the shoulder and he thought he would be out just 15 days.
"I feel comfortable," said Rodney, who has spent all five of his major league seasons with the Tigers. "It was tough at the beginning because I didn't really know what was wrong. They sent me for a second opinion but then they said there was nothing negative in there and with 10 days of rest it would be OK."
To clear roster room for Rodney, the Tigers optioned right-hander Aquilino Lopez to Toledo on Sunday.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.