By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
PHILADELPHIA — Four days.
That’s the maximum rest that manager Lloyd McClendon wants for his relievers in general but for veteran closer Fernando Rodney in particular.
That explains why Rodney got the call Monday night with the Seattle Mariners trailing Philadelphia by three runs in the eighth inning.
“Command can become an issue with him from time to time,” McClendon said. “If he’s not out there on a regular basis … you ask him to close a game out after five days, and it could become an issue.”
McClendon cited four days as a preferred maximum with all relievers.
“I like to see that guys have had three days (of rest),” he said. “That means they’re really fresh and ready to go. But when you start getting to four days, then rust comes into play.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, McClendon said finding sufficient work for eight relievers hasn’t been a problem despite strong work from the rotation. (Only three American League clubs have more innings from their starters.)
“It’s actually worked out pretty well,” he said. “Because we’ve got the eight-man (bullpen) out there, we can give guys days off and get them back on track.”
McClendon has also become an advocate of an eight-man bullpen, which is one reliever more than most clubs carry.
“Listen, it’s the identity of this ballclub,” he said. “It’s our foundation. The sum are greater than the parts. I just don’t see tinkering with it.”
The Mariners entered Tuesday with a 2.43 bullpen ERA. Oakland ranked second among American League clubs at 2.83.