Dereck Rodriguez looks to maintain recent form in first stint in the bigs


DENVER -- Dereck Rodriguez was preparing to start a Triple-A game on Monday afternoon when he got a late-night call from his manager telling him his dreams had come true. Rodriguez caught a flight to Denver where he already has a sense of familiarity with the park where he hopes to make his Major League debut. 

Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, visited Coors Field in 2004 when his father's Tigers played here on the Fourth of July. On Monday night, it'll be the son who will take the field. He's available out of the bullpen for the Giants. 

"I've been to a lot of stadiums but I wasn't there for me, I was there for my dad," he said. "It's nice coming here and having my name on the locker, not his."

If Dereck, a 25-year-old right-hander, keeps throwing the way he was in Sacramento, his name will be on the locker for quite a while. In nine starts he went 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA and 53 strikeouts to just 11 walks. Manager Bruce Bochy said he will serve as a long reliever for now but could push his way into the rotation. 

"We needed another arm here," Bochy said. "This was his start day so he can give us a lot of work as necessary."

Rodriguez was a sixth-round selection of the Twins in the 2011 draft but struggled at the plate. Before the 2014 season, the Twins moved the hard-throwing outfielder to the mound. He was a closer at first and then slid into the rotation. He has progressed steadily through the minors ever since. Rodriguez reached Double-A with the Twins and then chose the Giants as a minor league free agent. He said Pablo Sandoval, a training partner in Miami, helped sell him on the Giants. 

Rodriguez had a strong camp and opened eyes with his quality stuff. He has not shown the wildness you might expect from a longtime outfielder, and he said that ability to command the ball helped him reach the highest level faster than he expected.  

"I always had a good arm and was able to throw with accuracy," he said. "I think that's what got me through levels quicker, not walking a lot of guys."

Rodriguez was watching Netflix when Triple-A manager Dave Brundage called him. He said that call lasted five minutes and included tears. He talked to his dad, who is in Colombia right now but plans to be at AT&T Park this weekend. He also talked to his mom, who will be at Coors Field won Monday night. That was an emotional discussion, Rodriguez said. 

"That call lasted half an hour," he said, smiling. 

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