SEATTLE -- Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon believes struggling reliever Fernando Rodney is tipping his pitches, part of what's caused a significant decline after leading baseball in saves a season ago.
McClendon said before Monday's series opener with Arizona that his staff has been watching tape and there are some "dramatic" things that stand out and may have helped batters know what pitch is coming from the right-hander.
"Fernando was tipping some pitches. We've got to get that straightened out," McClendon said. "We've got to get him to the point where he's not tipping anymore and I think you'll see him getting back to being productive again. When hitters know what is coming it's a lot easier."
Rodney was pulled from the closer role in early June, but his struggles have continued. He has given up at least one earned run in six of his past eight appearances. He allowed Mark Teixeira's winning homer in the eighth inning on July 19 against the Yankees, then gave up a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning of last Saturday's 8-6 loss to Toronto.
McClendon said the problem of pitches being tipped is more of a recent development. Rodney uses only two pitches -- fastball and changeup -- and much of his past success is based around the ability to locate his fastball around the strike zone.
Asked if he thought he was tipping pitches, Rodney only offered "Maybe?"
"The only thing I can do is go outside and practice and make sure everything is the same," Rodney said.
Rodney has appeared in 42 games and has a 5.90 ERA, his highest ERA since 2003. Rodney led baseball with 48 saves last season but the inconsistency of this season led to his replacement as Seattle's closer. Rookie Carson Smith has been Seattle's primary closer since early June, but Rodney has continued to be used in the seventh and eighth innings.
Since July 7, Rodney has allowed seven earned runs and four homers in 6 innings.
"We're going to figure it out," Rodney said.