Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t expect his emotions to take over when he stepped to the mound against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander, who made his return after missing the 2020 season due to COVID-related complications, already had gone through a normal warm up with a normal arrival to the ballpark at Camden Yards.
But when Baltimore lead off man Cedric Mullins walked to the batter’s box in the first inning, Rodriguez could feel his emotions taking over. It wasn’t a sense of nervousness per se, but more a sense of excitement. It was like the six-year veteran was making his first Major League Baseball start all over again.
“When I went out there in the first inning I was feeling like it was my first start in the big leagues. Thatâs how I was feeling,” Rodriguez said on a video conference after Boston’s 7-3 win. “It got away as soon as I go out of the first inning. â¦ It wasn’t like nervous, it was like too excited to go out there in the first inning.”
Rodriguez allowed three of his four total hits in that first inning including a two-run homer while stranding two more. The 28-year-old hurler, though, bounced back in a big way.
He went five innings with seven strikeouts and allowed three runs.
“It means a lot. Like I said, it was a special day for me,” Rodriguez said. “As soon as I got on the mound and even before I threw the first pitch, I was like, ‘No matter what the score is or what happens today, I’m just going to enjoy this game.’ Because it’s my first game getting back.”
Manager Alex Cora expressed his own excitement after Rodriguez was able to get the win. Cora credited him for the hard work and mindset it took for Rodriguez to come back, throwing his first pitch in essentially 16 months Thursday.
“For him to perform that way is a testament to where heâs at right now in his career, who he is as a person,” Cora said on a postgame video conference. “I know it’s a big day for him. I’m happy everything went well.”
The Red Sox, who now have won four consecutive games, will return to the diamond as they face the Orioles on Saturday.