K-Rod moves from setup man to closer

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Angels won't offer closer
Troy Percival a new contract, choosing instead to rely on Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning.

The 35-year-old Percival was 2-3 with 33 saves and a 2.90 ERA in
52 games last season. He ranked fourth in the AL in saves, and had
30 or more for the seventh consecutive season, the longest such
streak by an active pitcher.

"As much as I would love to finish my career with the Angels, I
realize that a club is best suited with only one closer," Percival
said Tuesday in a statement issued by the team.

The move was not a surprise. The right-hander had already filed
for free agency after 10 seasons with the Angels.

Rodriguez, who turns 23 in January, was used mostly as a setup
man the last two years. He was 4-1 with 12 saves and a 1.82 ERA in
69 games in 2004, his second full season in the major leagues. The
Angels won the AL West title before losing to Boston in the first
round of the playoffs.

"I have the utmost respect for Francisco Rodriguez and what he
has accomplished in such a short period of time," Percival said.
"I look forward to watching the progress of his career in the
years ahead."

Angels general manager Bill Stoneman credited Percival for
mentoring Rodriguez, who became the youngest pitcher to win a World
Series game in 2002, when Anaheim won the championship.

"We've been fortunate to have two closers in our bullpen, one
who ranks among the best all-time, and the other whose future in
that role is ahead of him," Stoneman said. "We now believe
Francisco is ready to assume the role of closer for our ballclub."

Rodriguez probably will not be eligible for arbitration until
after the 2005 season.