Things didn’t go totally according to plan for Eduardo Rodriguez on Monday afternoon.

The Boston Red Sox were hoping to get 50 pitches out of the left-hander in their spring training contest against the New York Mets, but Rodriguez only tossed 41 over two scoreless innings. The 25-year-old allowed three hits, struck out two and walked none before finishing up the rest of his work in the bullpen.

After the game, manager Alex Cora explained his decision to not let Rodriguez see the third inning while also issuing a challenge to the southpaw.

“At that point, I’m not going to send him out there and face two hitters,” Cora said, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “Finish in the bullpen. He needs to get better at that. The stuff was really good. We saw it. He threw a slider, actually, to (Michael) Conforto and struck him out swing and miss. Good changeups. But we have to be more efficient.

“The offseason, everything is on plan. But obviously we need that next step, because 5 1/3 (innings) is tough. We want him to go deeper into games. With his stuff, he can do that whenever he feels like it. It’s part of the learning process. He’s old enough. He’s been in the league for a long time. It’s time for him to step up.”

Rodriguez got off to a hot start in camp, drawing hefty praise from both Cora and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. In fact, the young lefty even arrived in Fort Myers, Fla. with a new pitch that opened quite a few eyes among his Red Sox teammates.

While we likely can chalk Monday’s showing as just a hiccup for Rodriguez, it’s critical he stays the course. With Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi leading the charge, Rodriguez could make Boston’s starting rotation overpowering with a career year. And given his high-end stuff that Cora noted, Rodriguez is more than capable of doing so.

Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports