With their trade for Francisco Rodriguez, the Milwaukee Brewers now can call on a pair of potential closers. And in a tense ninth-inning situation, it sounds as if either Rodriguez or John Axford could get in the game.
Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin said both Rodriguez and Axford, the team's current closer, will get chances to finish games as Milwaukee makes a push for the playoffs.
"We're not going to get involved with the roles at this time," Melvin said Wednesday. "When you're a championship club, you need to have everybody pulling together."
Melvin said he talked to both Rodriguez and Axford in the wake of the trade with the New York Mets, which came together quickly Tuesday and was announced almost immediately after the All-Star game. The Mets sent Rodriguez and cash to Milwaukee for two players to be named.
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Melvin told Axford, who has a 2.83 ERA and 23 saves this season, to "not get nervous" about the addition.
Giving the ball to Rodriguez could be costly. Melvin said the Brewers were aware of a clause in Rodriguez's contract that guarantees him $17.5 million in 2012 if he finishes 55 games this year. The right-hander has finished 34 and is on pace to achieve the mark.
"I think that's what scared a lot of teams off," Melvin said. "But the opportunity arose, we had the chance to get someone the caliber of K-Rod."
Fan who caught Jeter ball will get own baseball card
The fan who returned Derek Jeter's ball from his 3,000th hit will get a bit of memorabilia to keep — his own baseball card. Topps says it will produce a trading card featuring Christian Lopez that will be included in sets later this year.
"We thought what he did captures the essence of what baseball and the Topps company is about," said Mark Sapir, Topps vice president for sports.
The recent college graduate with outstanding student loans will get some financial help, too.
Memorabilia dealer Brandon Steiner and sporting goods CEO Mitch Modell said they will make sure Lopez gets at least $50,000 toward his outstanding student loans of $150,000. Steiner set up an auction of memorabilia that eventually will include baseballs signed by both Lopez and Jeter and said Modell is pledging five percent from the sale of Yankees-related merchandise at the Modell's chain during what will be called "Christian Lopez Week."
All-Star game gets record-low rating
Baseball's All-Star game has drawn a record-low rating for the second straight year. The National League's 5-1 win Tuesday on Fox earned a 6.9 rating and 12 share. That's down 8 percent from the 7.5/13 in 2010. Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions tuned into a program, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.
Around the majors
Cardinals: St. Louis solidified its rotation for the future Wednesday, signing left-hander Jaime Garcia to a four-year contract extension with club options for a fifth and sixth season. The 25-year-old leads the team in victories at the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.23 ERA, and was due to be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Indians: Struggling starter Mitch Talbot was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a lower back strain. The right-hander, who is just 2-6 with a 6.33 ERA in 11 starts, is out of minor-league options. The club was either going to have to keep him on its roster or release him.
To take Talbot's roster spot, the Indians plan to recall outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Columbus.
Yankees: Right-hander Mark Prior is back pitching after missing almost three months because of a strained groin. The converted reliever said it was a step in the right direction Wednesday after allowing an unearned run and one hit over two innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees against Atlanta minor-leaguers. Because of shoulder injuries, Prior has not pitched in a major-league game since August 2006.