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Francisco Rodriguez open to NY return

NEW YORK -- Don't rule out a reunion just yet.

Although the New York Mets shipped closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this summer, the free-agent-to-be reliever said Friday afternoon at Citi Field that he could foresee a scenario in which he returns to Flushing.

"Definitely. I understand this is a business, they did what they needed to do and feel what they need to early in the year to trade me, (but) the door is still open," Rodriguez said. "I'm not the type of person that is going to burn bridges and say, no, I'm not coming this place because they trade me or whatever. I'm open-minded and open to come here to New York once again in the future."

After 2½ seasons with the Mets, Rodriguez will face his former team for the first time with Milwaukee this weekend at Citi Field. The Mets traded Rodriguez on July 12 to Milwaukee for two players to be named later, who have not yet been named.

Rodriguez's time with the Mets had its fair share of ups and downs. He went 9-10 with a 3.05 ERA while saving 83 games for the Mets, including 23 this year, but never came close to the 62 saves he recorded in his last season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008.

Off-the-field controversy also marked his tenure in New York. Following a game against the Rockies on Aug. 11, 2010, Rodriguez struck his girlfriend's father outside the family room at Citi Field and spent the night in a holding cell at Citi Field.

Rodriguez was placed on the disqualified list on Aug. 16 after the team found out he tore a ligament in his thumb during the altercation. He also spent two days on the restricted list and eventually agreed to undergo 52 weeks of anger management.

Despite those tumultuous moments, Rodriguez didn't rule out the reunion with the Mets. The former closer still thinks highly of his teammates and praised the New York fans.

While Rodriguez said he doesn't follow the Mets anymore, he said he looked forward to seeing some of his former teammates, complimenting them for standing behind him in his struggles and bad moments. He said the same of the fans when asked about whether he's thought of the reception he will receive if he pitches in the series.

"Thank them for many opportunities because they stood behind me in my good days and my bad days and as a player you have to appreciate that and I do appreciate that," Rodriguez said. "Coming in as a visiting team, if they boo me, it's something natural; if they cheer me, I will feel really special."

With the Brewers, Rodriguez is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 14 games, but has yet to register a save as closer John Axford has converted his past 33 opportunities in a row and has not blown a save since April. Rodriguez has instead been serving as the team's setup man.

Rodriguez said he still envisions himself getting the opportunity to close games with the Brewers, as he was told he would get that chance when he got traded. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke wouldn't commit to Rodriguez closing games in the future, as he said he envisioned that Rodriguez would have had that opportunity by now.

Since he's primarily been a closer for most of his career, Rodriguez said it's been a difficult transition to the setup man since it affects his preparation.

"You don't know if you have to come in the seventh, it changes everything and the role you have to pitch, tight ballgame in the ninth," Rodriguez said. "There's little details trying to pick them up quick and make an adjustment as quick as possible."

His manager said that transition hasn't become a problem.

"It hasn't been any challenge at all for me, he's been great," Roenicke said. "We had a conversation at the beginning, I asked him what he was thinking and kind of told him what I was thinking. We tried to work out some things (the save opportunities) that haven't really worked out yet. It hasn't been an issue at all."

When Rodriguez was with the Mets, the 29-year-old had a clause in his contact that would have allowed his $17.5 million option for next season to vest had he finished 55 games. Rodriguez said he and the Mets tried to work to eliminate the clause, but could not come to an agreement.

When he was dealt to Milwaukee, a team that had been on his no-trade list but ended up acquiring him since Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer didn't submit the list of teams to the Mets, Rodriguez waived the option in return for compensation. Rodriguez, who now has Scott Boras as his agent, has not talked to Kinzer since to see what happened.

Waiving the option allows him to become a free agent once again after the season. The last time he was a free agent, Rodriguez inked with the Mets. This time around, Rodriguez won't rule out the Mets but is keeping his options open.

"I wish I had a crystal ball and it would let me know what is going to happen, two to three months from now," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately this is difficult and as far as being a free agent and I don't know where that is going to take me, how long that is going to take me, where I'm going to end up. I just sit tight and wait and see what's going to happen."

Matt Ehalt is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.