It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for Eduardo Rodriguez.
The young Boston Red Sox left-hander dealt with subluxation of the patellar tendon — essentially, his kneecap popped out — in spring training, and though the injury was initially thought to be minor, he ended up missing several months before finally making his 2016 debut on May 31.
He then posted an 8.59 ERA in six starts before a demotion to the minors for a few weeks. He pitched great after returning on July 16, posting a 2.52 ERA in seven starts, but left his last start on Aug. 16 with a minor hamstring injury in the midst of a no-hitter.
There’s been some miscommunication somewhere in the six days since, as Sox manager John Farrell thought Rodriguez would make his next scheduled start before Rodriguez decided he wasn’t ready.
So, what’s going on?
Part of the problem seems to be Rodriguez’s own confidence in himself and his ability to stay healthy. He’s been on record saying he doesn’t want to have to think about an injury on the mound (and we don’t blame him) because, even if he’s healthy, if there’s even a shade of doubt in his mind it throws his game off and he can’t focus on pitching.
Hall of Famer Jim Rice was asked about the situation on NESN’s “Red Sox First Pitch” on Monday, and specifically if he were Rodriguez’s teammate, what would he tell him? Maybe something like, “Hey, we need you”?
“I would go and tell him the same thing,” Rice confirmed. “And of course I (would be) watching him maybe four or five days before he’s pitching and say ‘Hey man, you’ve gotta change this. You’re not really getting yourself into the game. Your thoughts are somewhere else. You’ve got to anticipate that you’re going out there for your next start and blow somebody away.’
“And so you look at things like this, and you need that guy in there like a (Dustin) Pedroia or like a Big Papi to just go in there and air somebody out one time and say ‘Hey look, I’ve been watching and you haven’t done a doggone thing. Get your butt out there and let’s go. I’m out there everyday, you better be out there every day.'”
Sounds like that’s just the kind of spark Rodriguez might need.
Check out more of Rice’s thoughts in the video above.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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