In his first outing since being named the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter last week, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched just two innings in his fourth start of the spring against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon.
The 27-year-old allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout over those two innings of work in Port Charlotte.
By the time Rodriguez had recorded the final out of the second, his pitch count had already reached 46, so rather than go back out there for a third inning, the decision was made for the left-hander to get the rest of his work in via a bullpen session in which he threw two simulated innings.
“I was a little bit out of command and threw too many pitches in those two innings,” Rodriguez explained during his in-game Zoom call with reporters. “So we talked in the dugout if I want to go back there or go to the bullpen and finish the work over there. I just go to the bullpen and finish the work over there.”
While citing that the Rays are a team he could see a lot of this season as a reason for why he did not pitch particularly deep into Monday’s contest, Rodriguez dismissed the notion that he is dealing with dead arm at this point in the spring.
In fact, he actually acknowledged that the type of performance he put together on Monday is one he likes to have from time to time during the spring so he can gauge where he is at.
“Today was one of those days I really like to have, especially in spring training,” said the Venezuelan southpaw. “Because then you know where the pitches are, what you have to keep working on. It was kind of a good day to learn from.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that while Rodriguez is healthy, the starter did not have a great week of preparation leading up to Monday’s outing.
“It’s one of those that during spring, you can see how they feel stuff-wise,” Cora said. “Throughout the week, it’s not like he’s hurt or whatever, but he didn’t look great. You hit the wall throughout. That’s part of spring. So let him face the lineup once and finish up in the bullpen. He didn’t look great either location-wise. So we just took care of him.”
Through his first four starts in Grapefruit League action, Rodriguez has yielded five runs (four earned) on 11 hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and 15 strikeouts over 13 2/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.63 and WHIP of 0.95.
If all goes according to plan, Rodriguez will make one more spring start against the Pirates on Saturday before the regular season begins.
Rodriguez, a veteran of five major-league seasons, has long awaited to start for the Red Sox on Opening Day.
When he takes the mound at Fenway Park to face off against the Orioles on April 1, it will mark his first regular season big-league start since the final day of the 2019 season. He missed the entirety of the shortened 2020 campaign after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following a bout with COVID-19 while at home in Florida last July.
“It feels amazing,” Rodriguez said in regards to being Boston’s Opening Day starter. “To have the chance after all those legends who have been the Opening Day starter. So for me, it feels really good to be part of it.”
(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)