MIAMI -- Had manager Jerry Manuel waited just a little bit longer on Saturday night, and had Mets reliever Darren O'Day struggled against the Marlins just a little bit more, Francisco Rodriguez would have entered the game with his third save of the year on the line. Not even a week into the season, that would have represented a statistical boon.
But Manuel didn't wait. He called on Rodriguez before things got dicey. And K-Rod recorded the final two outs without issue, helping -- but not saving -- the Mets in an 8-4 win.
"We are not necessarily identifying saves," Manuel said. "We're identifying wins and losses."
In other words, if Manuel has a chance to end things quickly and without incident, as he did in Saturday's win over the Marlins, he'll do it. It may not be as amenable to recoding the sort of gaudy, record-saving save total that K-Rod did last season with the Angels. But Manuel doesn't much care for statistics.
"We have, as an industry, somewhat boxed ourselves into making people believe that, 'If it's not that [save] situation, I don't do well,'" Manuel said. "But the game is still on the line. That's the bottom line. And that's what we -- especially as the team we are in New York -- we have to understand that. It's about the win, and not the statistic."
So expect to see Rodriguez in more non-save situations in the future, after a season in which he pitched just seven times in such spots.
If the Mets need saving, K-Rod will do it, regardless of whether or not it counts as a "save."
"I was as guilty of that at one point as anybody else," Manuel said of using his closer in a role defined by the save statistic. "I'm trying to also train myself in the importance of just winning the ballgame, more than what we get out of it statistically. If I preach one thing, I've got to walk the same way."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.