Righty brings trademarked celebration to perfect 1-inning spring debut
By AJ Cassavell
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Fernando Rodney recorded his final out, took three steps off the mound at the Peoria Sports Complex and -- for the first time in a Padres uniform -- pulled on an invisible bowstring and shot an invisible arrow into the atmosphere.
Sure, it was only the sixth inning of an essentially meaningless 8-3 Cactus League loss to the the White Sox, but the Padres hope it was the first of many invisible arrows they'll get to see this season.
Rodney -- who will evidently be bringing his trademarked save celebration with him to San Diego -- pitched a perfect frame in his spring debut, needing only six pitches. More importantly, he didn't feel lingering effects of the hamstring injury that had sidelined him early in camp. (Rodney sustained the injury while pitching for the Dominican Republic in the Carribbean Series.)
"Physically, mentally I feel good," Rodney said. "The only thing that was bothering me was the little hammy [injury]. But the last two BPs I threw on the mound, I felt very good, and today I felt great."
Rodney wasn't the only San Diego pitcher to look sharp in his spring debut on Friday. Matt Thornton and Kevin Quackenbush also tossed scoreless frames without allowing much solid contact.
Thornton, who allowed a double and struck out two, signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to Padres Spring Training on March 3. But he had been throwing his usual bullpen sessions before joining the club, meaning it didn't take him very long to get game-ready.
"It's my 18th Spring Training, and I'm still antsy to get out there and pitch," said Thornton, who posted a 2.18 ERA in 60 appearances for Washington last season. "The nerves get going -- even for me, even now. So it was exciting for me to get out there."
Quackenbush, meanwhile, made quick work of the White Sox, freezing the first hitter he faced with a nasty breaking ball before inducing two routine ground-ball outs. His sore hamstring was tested a bit on one of those grounders -- a slow chopper to first base on which he was forced to cover -- but he made it to the bag without any issues.
Both Thornton and Quackenbush are favorites to begin the season as late-inning guys out of the Padres' bullpen. It will be their job to get the job to Rodney. And it will be Rodney's job to see to it that he gets to shoot a few more of those arrows.
"He's colorful," Padres manager Andy Green said of Rodney. "He's got a lot of life. He's a lot of fun."
As for the arrow, Rodney says there's more where that came from.
"We have a lot of arrows in there," he said.
AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.