ST. LOUIS – Hector Rondon had just notched his first playoff save when the reporters inside Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse flocked toward his locker…to talk about how he got stuck in the bullpen bathroom on Friday night.
The Cubs closer has an easy-going, good-natured personality, creating none of the drama you normally see with ninth-inning artists. And the surreal moment sort of made sense after all the ups and downs in Rondon’s career.
The Associated Press ran the locked-in-the-bathroom story during Saturday’s 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, which Rondon finished by getting three groundballs outs and allowing only an infield single. Just like that, the Cubs turned this National League division series into a best-of-three grudge match.
Rondon went for a bathroom break in the fifth or sixth inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss. Here’s his side of the “MacGyver” story:
“I was banging on the door: ‘Hey, I’m locked in!’ So they started to pull the door and I found like a metal (object)," Rodon said. "I put it between the door and it finally opened. But I had been there for like five minutes.
“I started looking which way to get out, because they had like (an opening) over the door. So I think like: ‘Oh my God, I have to jump over there.’”
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Rondon rolled with the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2010, and the right-elbow issues that limited him to 10 innings combined during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Cubs still saw something when the Cleveland Indians left their 2009 minor-league pitcher of the year exposed in the Rule 5 draft.
The Cubs carried Rondon on the 2013 roster during a 96-loss season and watched him developed into the lights-out closer who’s saved 59 games across the past two years. Plus this playoff save against a big rival at Busch Stadium.
“It’s something special for me, for all the hard work I’ve been doing,” Rondon said. “I enjoy that moment right now. I’m really happy.”