By Shannon Drayer
There was a steady stream of Tampa players, coaches and reporters making their way to the Mariners’ clubhouse and dugout Monday to say hello to Fernando Rodney, who played for the Rays in 2012 and 2013. From the looks of things, he was very popular there.
Rodney has had the unique experience of playing for the most new-school manager in baseball, Joe Maddon, and one of the most old-school managers, Jim Leyland. He enjoyed playing for both.
“Both guys for me, especially Jim Leyland, they were great, they were both great,” Rodney said. “I think good managers let you know why you are here, why you are so special for the team. They give you a chance to play.”
With Maddon, Rodney appreciated how he went out of his way to get to know his players off the field and the personal connection he made with his players.
“Joe is the kind of guy who likes to know how you feel before you come to the game,” Rodney said. “How your family is, he wants to know if you feel good, if your family feels good. He knows you are going to play 100 percent if that is good.”
Maddon’s clubhouse was a laid back clubhouse. His daily schedule for the players was much less structured than Leyland’s. There was the sense of fun. It wasn’t unusual to see a 20-foot boa constrictor or a penguin in the clubhouse. Why? Why not.
“Joe Maddon is one of the most fun guys you will ever see,” Rodney said. “He loves people focused on what he does. Sometimes we dress up (Maddon usually has themes for road trips and they dress appropriately when they travel) all that kind of dress up, that’s fun. They fly here like that. You go to the field and you think, ‘What’s going on? This guy is not worried about anything. Doesn’t worry about anything.’ He’s a guy like that.”
In Detroit there was more of a learning atmosphere.
“I think I learned a lot with Jim. It was, you can come to the field, you can work, you can get better, you can improve,” he said. “You can learn about this game. And I think I learned a lot.”
Old-school, new-school, the styles may be different but the foundations with Leyland and Maddon were the same, according to Rodney.
“Both these guys understand what is going on on the field, they just have different approaches,” he said. “They are both guys you play for because they make you happy. They make you feel comfortable and you want to give 100 percent.”
James Jones, 8
Stefen Romero, 9
Robinson Cano, 4
Corey Hart, DH
Justin Smoak, 3
Kyle Seager, 5
Dustin Ackley, 7
Mike Zunino, 2
Brad Miller, 6
Look familiar? A rare back-to-back same lineup and as manager Lloyd McClendon has said before, why mess with success? As this is just the second time David Price has faced the Mariners, the only hitter who has significant history against him is Robinson Cano, who is 15 for 57 off him. James Jones and Stefen Romero back at the top after scoring six of the Mariners’ runs last night. Hisashi Iwakuma takes the hill with a 16-inning scoreless streak at Safeco field.