Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney returned to the Rays’ clubhouse on Thursday, with a smile and a World Baseball Classic Championship Medal. Rodney helped lead the Dominican Republic to the Championship, appearing in 8 games and pitching 7 1/3 scoreless innings, only giving up one hit. And when the game was over, he shot an imaginary arrow, a sign of victory that Rays fans are used to seeing. Besides being a dependable player to the team, Rodney brought the Dominican Republic team plenty of laughs. He told them about a magical plantain flown in from the Dominican Republic (actually given to him from a fan in exchange for signing a baseball) that brought the team luck. Rodney’s magical plantain worked, as the Dominican Republic won 3-0 against Puerto Rico on Tuesday, March 19th.
Though it is great seeing Rodney’s early 2013 success, Rays’ coaches are worried that Rodney may suffer from a residual impact later in the season. Coach Joe Maddon is talking about using Rodney in 2 straight games, instead of 3 straight games. But Rodney isn’t worried, “I’m ready to go right now for the season. I feel good. .. I feel ready to go. My arm feels good, body, mentally, physically, everything’s good. … I don’t feel any problems, I feel great.” Rodney will pitch March 27th and March 30 before the season starts in April.