OAKLAND, Calif. -- Arthur Rhodes has accepted that his new
career as a closer is over for now.
The Oakland Athletics have made Octavio Dotel their ninth-inning
man, acquiring the 30-year-old right-hander from Houston in a
three-team trade Thursday. Dotel is expected to be in uniform for
Saturday's middle game of a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants.
"I'm not relieved. I'm disappointed," said Rhodes, who had
blown five of 14 save chances and had a 5.28 ERA. "Hey, they got
to do what they got to do. I've been struggling in the closer role.
They go out and get somebody and, hey, I tip my hat to them.
They're not going to let me sit out there and struggle all the time
and pitch bad the whole rest of the season. ... I'm back in the
setup role, where I'm better at."
Rhodes was a setup man in Seattle before signing a $9.2 million,
three-year contract in December to replace Keith Foulke, who left
for a big-money deal with the Boston Red Sox. The A's were hoping
they'd be able to count on the same pitcher to finish games for at
least a couple of seasons, but it didn't happen.
Jim Mecir and Chad Bradford also handled some of the closer
duties -- and they, too, had trouble. On the team's recent road
trip, the bullpen was 0-3 and managed one save in four
opportunities, compiling a 10.59 ERA (20 earned runs in 17 innings)
in nine games.
"Every year before the [trading] deadline the A's have done
something to strengthen the team," Mecir said. "[The bullpen] has
been a weak spot. All relievers are supposed to be ready all the
time. If you do know your role it makes you more comfortable. It's
a mental boost."
Rhodes claims the team didn't warn him about being replaced.
"Nobody said nothing," he said.
Yet A's assistant general manager David Forst said GM Billy
Beane had spoken to Rhodes about the development.
"My guess is he'll be comfortable going back to what he
knows," Forst said of Rhodes.
Dotel is 0-4 with a 3.12 ERA and 14 saves in 17 chances in his
first year as a closer following Houston's offseason trade of
All-Star Billy Wagner to Philadelphia. The four losses have all
come at home, where Dotel has a 3.72 ERA. He has been tougher away
from hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park with a 2.35 ERA.
Dotel is a hard thrower with 50 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.
He has spent five of his six major league seasons with the
Astros, so Dotel had mixed emotions about leaving. He told
reporters he was excited to be wanted by the A's and hopes to fit
in right away.
"You've got a lot of relationships you have," A's manager Ken
Macha said, understanding Dotel's situation. "Who knows, after two
weeks he might be very happy he's here."
His new teammates are excited to have him.
"I think it's really going to put a lot of people in places
they can succeed," said Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, who
is working his way back from a broken hand. "We're right there, as
bad as we're playing. This will lift us up."