(photo via milb.com)
The Boston Red Sox have a hole in their starting rotation, and a man they were relying on coming into the season is ready to fill it. Lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez entered spring training as the projected number two starter behind David Price, but was placed on the disabled list with a right knee subluxation suffered shagging fly balls early in camp. The 23-year old made his third rehab start for Pawtucket Sunday afternoon in what should be his last minor league tune-up.
In his first two starts the early innings had given Rodriguez problems, as he allowed three runs in each of his starts after two frames had been played. He got off to a fast start against the Rochester Red Wings in this one, as he struck Byron Buxton to start the game and induced a double play after allowing two singles in the first.
After a 1-2-3 second inning, the Wings broke the scoreless tie in the third. A nine pitch at-bat ended with a Buck Britton double and a Buxton groundout eventually brought him home and brought Rochester a 1-0 lead. Kennys Vargas added to it with a solo home run leading off the fourth and Buxton followed suit with a solo shot in the fifth.
Rodriguez ended his day pitching 5.2 innings while giving up three runs on six hits and one walk. He threw a season-high 93 pitches and topped out at 94 mph. Working off the fastball for most of the outing, he used his changeup, slider and recently added curveball as well. He induced many ground ball outs, but for the third straight appearance struck out less than thee hitters. With the exception of the two home runs, which went to the opposite field, Rodriguez didn’t let many balls get past the infield.
“He looked more comfortable today,” PawSox Manager Kevin Boles said post game. “There is definitely more flex in that leg and you can tell he is much more comfortable and confident in his landing foot. He is pitching down more consistently and the trust in his mix is better. Overall he did a terrific job.”
“I was thinking too much in my first start about my knee, but now I am thinking just about executing my pitches,” Rodriguez said after the game. “All of my pitches, all of my mechanics feel ready to go.”
When and where his next start will be is not yet known, but the expectation is that it will come sometime this week with Boston. Nothing that happened Sunday should change that plan.