Fuentes Harbors No Ill Feelings Over Losing Closer Job

By  | 

Brian Fuentes insists he's not bitter, just bent on getting better.

The three-time All-Star lost his job as Colorado's closer last summer after blowing four straight saves and lost his arbitration hearing on the eve of spring training.

Although Fuentes settled into the setup job and played a key role in the Rockies' run to their first NL pennant, a panel ruled the reliever should get $5.05 million this year rather than his request for $6.5 million.

"I'm happy I have a job," said Fuentes, who made $3,535,000 last season. "There's a lot of guys who don't have jobs right now. We were just talking about that. To be a point in my career where I'm still in demand is good."

What wasn't any fun was sitting in on the hearing.

"I'm not worried about what was said. It's time to move on. I'm looking forward to getting a ball in my hand," Fuentes said. "I'm not a businessman. I'm not a lawyer. I'm a ballplayer."

The Rockies remain high on Fuentes. It's just that they found a terrific - and much cheaper - closer in Manny Corpas, who posted the lowest relief ERA (2.08) in club history last year, when he saved 19 of 20 games after taking over from Fuentes on July 7 and then posted a 0.87 ERA in the postseason, where he converted five of six saves.

Fuentes, whose 81 saves since 2005 rank second only to Billy Wagner (112) among left-handed major league relievers, is expected to serve again as the setup man for Corpas, although the addition of Luis Vizcaino in free agency could alter the dynamics in the bullpen.

"My job is to come in and get guys out," Fuentes said. "So, whatever role they plan on using me in is totally up to them. I'm their pawn, so let me know what you want me to do and I'll do it."

"You go through a range of emotions. You're upset, you're mad. but when the dust settles, there's only one thing to do and that's get better and shake it off. I felt like I did that. When I came back from the break I felt I had pretty strong numbers the rest of the way, as I did before I had that bad week. So, I think that's more indicative of my season, more so than one week statistically. I mean, my numbers weren't bad statistically, but things get thrown out as a reliever, you have one bad week and I had one hell of a bad week, so on paper that skews things a little bit. But I think shoot, I think if you ask most relievers, they'd take a low-3 after a full season almost every year. (3.08) I think I was just in a funk. Hitters go into slumps and pitchers go into funks. It kind of hit me at once. Usually it's spread out over a whole season and mine hit me all at one time. I had a great first half before that and I had a really strong second half after that so there wasn't too many bad days during those times, but mine were all slumped right in the middle."