Mar 2, 2011, 4:48 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — Henry Rodriguez, the flame-throwing reliever acquired from Oakland in the Josh Willingham trade, arrived at Nationals camp today and believes it won’t take long to catch up to the rest of his new teammates.
Rodriguez, 24, had been stuck in his native Venezuela the last two weeks waiting for his visa application to be approved. He did, however, throw on a regular basis, even facing live hitters before finally getting cleared to travel to the United States earlier this week.
“I was working real hard, throwing bullpens regularly and working out regularly,” Rodriguez said via translator Javier Castro, the Nationals’ assistant clubhouse manager. “Obviously it’s not a big-league spring training, but I was just staying in shape throwing my sides as I normally would.”
Rodriguez, who will be held out of games for now while he catches up, believes he’ll be up to speed in a week or two. The Nationals need to get a good look at the right-hander over the next month because he’s out of options and either needs to make the Opening Day roster or else be exposed to waivers.
Rodriguez appeared in 32 games for the Athletics over the last two seasons, posting a 4.26 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. A power reliever with a fastball that approaches triple digits, he could figure into the open competition for the closer’s role with the Nationals.
“If they give me that opportunity, it’s up to my manager,” he said. “But I’m here to do my job, and I’m going to go get it.”
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