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K-Rod looks like an all-star again

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By Todd Rosiak
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
July 3, 2014

TORONTO--Francisco Rodriguez had a more turbulent spring training than most players.

From signing in late January with the Milwaukee Brewers, to literally needing to escape political unrest in his hometown of in Caracas, Venezuela, to stepping on a cactus in Phoenix and dealing with the aftereffects of that, the veteran reliever just wanted to be as ready as he could be for the start of the season.

Then, the day before the opener, he was informed by manager Ron Roenicke that he would be replacing Jim Henderson as closer. And to say he's handled the switch in roles with aplomb might not do the 32-year-old enough justice.

Rediscovering the magic that made him one of the best and most consistent ninth-inning specialists during his days with the Angels and Mets, Rodriguez entered play Wednesday leading the major leagues with 27 saves to go along with a 3-2 record and 2.34 earned run average.

They're numbers that figure to make him a real candidate for the All-Star Game, which will be played on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis. It would be Rodriguez's fifth all-star appearance and first since 2009, when he was with the Mets.

As a pitcher, Rodriguez is in a different position than the starting position players, who are voted in by the fans. He'll need to be voted in either by fellow players, selected by National League team manager Mike Matheny or voted in by fans on the Internet in a final vote.

“It's tough because we don't have control of it. I haven't put it in my mind at all,” Rodriguez said. “Definitely (I would accept). If I go, it would be awesome. If not, I get four days of vacation.”

Rodriguez has almost had to pinch himself on occasion when he thinks about how things have turned out for him this season—going from an undefined role in the Brewers' bullpen to regularly closing games for the first time since the first half of 2011.

“It would have been hard to believe because I didn't have the potential to be a closer,” he said. “It's not like something I asked for. Everything seemed to be fine with Jim, and this opportunity came to me.

“I just did not want to let it slip away. I wanted to take advantage of this good opportunity for me. It's been something I've been looking around for, for a long time.”

As of Tuesday, centerfielder Carlos Gomez and third baseman Aramis Ramirez were positioned to be all-star starters. Gomez ranked second behind Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, putting him in line for his second consecutive appearance in the midsummer classic and first as a starter.

Ramirez was an all-star twice previously, most recently in 2008.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy figures to be a lock to make the team behind St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. Others who might have an outside shot would be starter Kyle Lohse (9-2, 3.08) and setup man Will Smith (1-1, 1.77, major-league-leading 21 holds).



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