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09/04/09 11:50 PM ET
Rodney: No malice behind heave
Tigers closer launches ball at stands after frustrating ninth
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Perhaps it was a little bit of frustration, perhaps it was a little bit of celebration. Whatever it was, Tigers closer Fernando Rodney may have earned some trouble after Friday night's 4-3 win over the Rays. Upon getting Willy Aybar to ground out to first base to cap a frustrating bottom of the ninth -- one he inherited with a three-run lead but made close after giving up two runs and putting runners on second and third with two outs -- Rodney got the ball from first baseman Miguel Cabrera after he touched first and chucked it toward the stands behind home plate. The ball ended up sailing into the press box at Tropicana Field, bouncing off the first row and toward the back without hitting anybody. But it was close. "I was throwing the ball to the fans," Rodney said after notching his 32nd save. "[I was] emotional. It's nothing bad. "I know I'm not supposed to throw the ball, but I'm feeling in the moment. ... I don't throw it to hit nobody. I think if I throw it in the right spot, I don't hit nobody." Manager Jim Leyland didn't know about the incident until after the game and declined to comment because he hadn't spoken with Rodney about it. But he did offer up a joke, saying Rodney was going after the official scorer after some close pitches were called balls. When asked if he always throws balls into the stands after saves, the 32-year-old right-hander half-jokingly replied: "When the fans are close, I throw it to the fans when it's close. When they're far, I throw it far."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.