A spring training knee injury kept Eduardo Rodriguez on the disabled list to start the season, then his recovery took longer than anyone expected. It took him some time to develop confidence in the knee, and once he did, the left-hander was hit hard, wasn't throwing breaking balls, and experienced yet another bout of pitch-tipping. After spending some time at Triple-A Pawtucket mid-summer eliminating the pitch-tipping, Rodriguez was summoned back to Boston after the All-Star break. In 14 second-half starts, he posted a 3.24 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while striking out 9.15 batters per nine innings. While the overall numbers weren't pretty, overcoming the first-half adversity was a real positive. He's expected to open the season in the rotation, though he tweaked his knee during winter ball and will not pitch again until the spring. Make sure to keep tabs on his availability during drafts, as this was the same knee that delayed his debut last season.
Rodriguez had a particularly bad inning against the Orioles on Monday that did not please manager John Farrell, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. "The fourth inning, there were some things inside there, whether it's backing up home plate or just being a little bit more attentive. That's got to be more consistent throughout, particularly as a starting pitcher. Those lapses can come back to bite you," said the manager. Rodriguez had his worst outing of the spring, allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits and one walk while striking out three over six innings. The defense wasn't great behind him, but the left-hander gave up plenty of loud contact. While it's a minor step back in what has been encouraging spring training for Rodriguez, fixing a lapse of focus is much easier than something physical.
Rodriguez pitched 5.2 innings in a game for High-A Salem on the back fields of the Red Sox's training facility in Fort Myers on Wednesday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports. Rodriguez tossed 85 pitches (59 for strikes) and struck out eight while walking one. He admitted pitching to minor leaguers is not the same as facing major leaguers, but was pleased to throw all of his pitches. With David Price (elbow) expected to begin the regular season on the disabled list and the uncertainty surrounding Drew Pomeranz (triceps), Rodriguez is certain to start the season in the rotation. Once there, his performance will determine how long he'll remain.
Rodriguez has improved the depth of his slider as well as being able to throw it to both sides of the plate, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports. "It's that pitch that has advanced him a little bit more this spring," said manager John Farrell. Rodriguez allowed two hits and three walks while striking out six in four scoreless innings Friday, giving him a 2.08 ERA with 13 strikeouts and five walks over 13 spring innings. His performance this spring, coupled with a strong finish to 2016, points to the left-hander being an important piece of Boston's rotation, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding David Price.
Rodriguez allowed one run on three hits and one walk while striking out three over four innings in Sunday's game against the Phillies, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Rodriguez got touched for a home run in the third, but once again looked like a pitcher who will be part of Boston's rotation to start the season. His fate is somewhat tied into David Price's rehab from an elbow injury, but if Rodriguez pitches well, the Red Sox can use that as an excuse to really take it slow with Price's return. In three spring starts, the 23-year-old Rodriguez has allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. "I feel normal with everything," he said. "Now I'm just concentrating on my mechanics and my consistency with my pitches."
Rodriguez has been a more confident pitcher this spring, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. "It feels really good, and my confidence is really good," Rodriguez said after allowing two runs in three innings Tuesday. "My pitches are going right where I want them, and my position to throw the ball is really good. My mechanics are really good." Even before Rodriguez suffered a dislocated kneecap last year, he was tentative on the mound, cognizant of his habit of tipping pitches. Then, after the injury cropped up, he modified his mechanics to limit the amount of stress on his landing leg. That version of Rodriguez is nowhere to be found this spring. With David Price (elbow) uncertain for Opening Day, the left-handed Rodriguez has a strong chance to break camp with Boston for the first time in his career.