New closer Fernando Rodney likes Twins chances

By Mike Berardino

Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.— When Fernando Rodney visited Target Field with the Arizona Diamondbacks last August, the veteran closer made sure to chat with Twins pitcher/marvel Bartolo Colon.

Rodney, four years younger than his Dominican Republic countryman, had a question for Colon.

“I asked him, ‘Hey, how long are you going to be here?’ I look young in front of you,” Rodney said with a laugh during a teleconference on Friday. “He said, ‘I don’t know, Rodney. I feel good. I think I know how to pitch. I know how to get outs.’”

The same can be said of Rodney, who turns 41 in March and signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal plus an option year with the Twins. With incentives, the deal could be worth up to $6 million, according to a person with direct knowledge. The terms are identical on the team option.

“My decision is different (than Colon’s),” Rodney said. “My arm feels good. I feel like I’m 29 today, and we’ve got a good chance in the division this year.”

Rodney said he also had offers from the Texas Rangers, New York Mets and Detroit Tigers. He earned 39 saves with the Diamondbacks last year and still has a mid-90s fastball to go with a power changeup.

After meeting with Twins manager Paul Molitor and general manager Thad Levine at this week’s winter meetings, Rodney researched the American League Central.

“We have a good chance because that division this year is not going to be too strong,” he said. “I think the only team we have to (worry about) is going to be Cleveland. If you see the other teams in that division, we got a lot of chance to go to the World Series.”

Rodney, whose 300 career saves rank third among active relievers, played with Twins special assistant Torii Hunter and No. 1 starter Ervin Santana with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010-11. He also is friendly with young Twins players such as Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco as well as Eddie Rosario.

“I’m excited about the Twins team because they have a lot of young guys,” Rodney said. “They have a good team, and these guys are in good position to win the World Series this year, and I have a chance to close the game. I wanted to be part of the team. I wanted to be with a winning team. I’m coming here to win. Winning — that’s why I decided to come here.”