KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles bolstered their bullpen with a late-inning arm Tuesday, acquiring reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the last-place Milwaukee Brewers for minor league infielder Nick Delmonico.
“We’re not playing for (anything) here. But going there now, every game is going to count. I’ve got to be on top of my game now and help them out,” Rodriguez said.
Baltimore began the day 2½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. Looking for their second straight playoff appearance, the third-place Orioles had a 1½-game lead over Texas for the final AL wild-card spot.
“We were trying to upgrade the pitching to give us a chance to make the run for the AL (East) title and the pennant. So we did what we had to do to help the team now, and we have enough players having good years at the plate,” Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said.
“Nick Delmonico shows a lot of promise as a hitter, but the major league club needed a little more depth for our pitching staff to accomplish what we want to accomplish this year.”
Baltimore already has a proven closer in Jim Johnson, who was leading the majors with 35 saves. Rodriguez, however, gives manager Buck Showalter another option late in the game.
“I’m still kind of taking it in,” Showalter said after his team’s 3-2 loss in Kansas City. “He gives us a lot of options.”
The Orioles cleared space for Rodriguez on the 40-man roster by transferring outfielder Nolan Reimold to the 60-day disabled list before their game against the Kansas City Royals.
K-Rod was one of the game’s best relievers during his time with the Angels, saving a major league-record 62 games in 2008. He later spent three seasons as a closer with the Mets that are remembered mostly for an alleged assault of his girlfriend’s father at the ballpark.
The 31-year-old Rodriguez has revitalized his career the past three years in Milwaukee, going 1-1 with 10 saves and a 1.09 ERA in 25 appearances this season.
“I think he’s the kind of guy that can be a difference-maker,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “When you get into postseason or you get into pennant races in August and September, you always need more than one guy that can pitch in the ninth inning. He’s capable of doing that.”
Delmonico, a sixth-round draft pick in 2011, was hitting .244 in 60 games for Class-A Frederick. He hit .249 in 95 games for Class-A Delmarva last season.
Melvin said the 21-year-old Delmonico will be assigned to Class-A Brevard County. Delmonico’s father, Rod, was the baseball coach at Tennessee from 1990-2007.
“He’s a player that’s got good baseball instincts. He’s known for being a very good hitter. He comes from a baseball background,” Melvin said.