TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels sent Francisco Rodriguez down to Minor League camp on Thursday, bringing even more clarity to their bullpen situation with eight days left until Opening Day.
With Bobby Cassevah (labrum tear) and Michael Kohn (forearm strain) slated to start the season on the disabled list, it's now down to Trevor Bell, Jason Isringhausen, Kevin Jepsen and Rich Thompson (out of options) for the three final bullpen spots. As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Angels have to pay Isringhausen $100,000 to keep him on the roster past Friday, so his fate will be decided by then.
Rodriguez, who was on a Minor League contract since he cleared waivers this offseason, spent his stint at big league camp looking to prove his past shoulder woes were behind him and that he was ready to be a steady contributor in the big leagues again.
But Rodriguez simply ran out of innings to prove himself.
"They invited me here to show them I'm healthy, and I think I demonstrated that," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "Now, I have to show them that I can be in the big leagues in order to get called back up and help out in the bullpen."
"Hopefully, he's going to progress with that on the other side and become the consistent Major League pitcher he can," manager Mike Scioscia added, "because his stuff -- if you grade out his stuff, and he's shown glimpses of it in the big leagues, at times -- there's no doubt he can be part of a championship-caliber bullpen."
Rodriguez, 29, posted a 3.12 ERA in 8 2/3 Cactus League innings, giving up three runs on seven hits to go along with four walks and four strikeouts.
The right-hander made 43 appearances for the Angels in 2010, posting a 4.37 ERA and displaying some electric stuff. But he was limited to just 20 combined appearances in the big leagues and Minors this past season.
Is he back to being the Rodriguez of 2010?
"Not yet," he said. "I still don't feel like I'm the Francisco Rodriguez of 2010, but I think I'm on a good path to get there. I think we're doing the right things. Now, I just have to keep working. This isn't the end of the world. It isn't anything we didn't think could happen. I just have to work that much harder."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.