Minnesota Twins closer Fernando Rodney pitched in the 5th inning in Sunday’s game for the first time in a decade. But there was a good reason.
Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor raised some eyebrows on Sunday afternoon when Fernando Rodney came in to pitch the 5th inning. Rodney hasn’t pitched that early in a game in over a decade. Naturally, there was much speculation about the unusual move. The MLB trade deadline is July 31st. When teams are working on trading a player, they routinely pull them from games to ensure their health. However, something more monumental was afoot.
After the game, Molly revealed that Rodney had to catch a flight to Miami for an immigration hearing on Monday morning. This, of course, sparked even more debate. Was there some sort of issue with his citizenship? Was Rodney going to be able to finish the season?
Considering how this season has played out for the Twins, anything is possible at this point. On Monday afternoon, Rodney shared an Instagram post explaining that his hearing Monday morning was the final step in him becoming a United States citizen.
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Rodney’s journey has bigger implications than baseball
Fernando Rodney was picked up as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers in 1997. He made his debut for the same club in May of 2002. Since then, he’s pitched for the Mariners, Rays, Diamondbacks, Angels, Cubs, Padres and most recently, the Twins.
He is a three time All Star, is the recipient of the MLB Delivery Man of the Year Award and in 2012 was the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Rodney is 18th on the saves list with 321. He has 21 saves for the Twins going into the All Star Break. His personality is as large as his saves number, wearing his hat almost sideways on his head and pretending to shoot a bow and arrow when he records another save.
Rodney’s decision to obtain a US citizenship could have a bigger impact on more than just his career. Given the current political climate and the number of Dominican born players who are both actively in the MLB and those who aspire to be, this could be the beginning of something big. It’s clear that Rodney still has the same pride for the Dominican Republic and his fellow countrymen. Rodney has been many things in his career; closer, All Star, and now, he can call himself a United States citizen.