A Feel-Good Citizenship Story

Fernando Rodney has been a major league pitcher since 2002. A reliever, he broke in with the Detroit Tigers and had his most productive years as a closer for the Tigers, Tampa Bay and Seattle. At 41, he is still formidable and is closing this year for the Minnesota Twins.

Last Sunday, something unusual happened: in a game against Tampa Bay, Twins manager Paul Molitor brought Rodney in to pitch the fifth inning. It seemed like a weird decision, but today the truth came out:

When manager Paul Molitor relieved Fernando Romero in the fifth inning Sunday with runners on second and third, he chose an unexpected pitcher: Closer Fernando Rodney, who had not appeared before the sixth inning since 2005.

It felt like an extreme move, to use his best pitcher in a critical situation, or perhaps a chance to showcase the 41-year-old for scouts from teams considering a trade.

And the move was brilliant: Rodney threw a 95-mph fastball, struck out Carlos Gomez on an 83-mph changeup, and ended the inning on a harmless grounder.

Molitor had a confession after the game, however. “To be honest with you, it wasn’t about [strategy]. He needs to be in Miami for an immigration hearing [Monday] morning” that he couldn’t reschedule, the manager said.

So Rodney had to leave by 3:30 to catch a flight.

After 19 years in the U.S., Fernando Rodney has become a citizen. He broke the news on Instagram:

Congratulations, Fernando!