Diamondbacks’ Eduardo Rodriguez breaks down 1st start: ‘That’s what we’re in spring training for’

Feb 27, 2024, 5:35 PM | Updated: 5:40 pm

Eduardo Rodriguez...

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez throws a bullpen during spring training at Salt River Fields. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez has been to spring training a dozen times at this point in his career. As he put it, sometimes he allows two runs all spring and others he gets tee’d off on.

After his first D-backs start Tuesday against the Texas Rangers resulted in four earned runs and only three outs recorded, he laid out what he’s looking for in spring outings.

“The more you play in the league, the more you know how it is,” said Rodriguez, who signed a four-year, $80 million contract this offseason. “When you go into spring training, you don’t have scouting reports, there are some guys you don’t know whom you’re facing.

“You’re just working on your pitches and your command … so for me just go out there and feel good with all my pitches and with my command and that’s it. I don’t really care about the results or the strikeouts and all that. I just care more about how I feel after the game.”

Rodriguez admitted the command was off Tuesday, as he threw 20 of 38 pitches for strikes and allowed two home runs and two walks. Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien hit the first pitch of the game over the left-center field wall.

But the veteran pitcher felt his velocity was where it needed to be with a 90-93 mph fastball and he worked in multiple sliders he has been tinkering with. He was encouraged the slider did what he wanted it to.

“I thought the ball was coming out of his hand pretty good,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Maybe a little distracted by some calls at the plate he didn’t necessarily get but that’s part of the game. We got to find a way to overcome that. But just an up mistake, the ball carried out of the ballpark for a three-run home run, and maybe a little fastball dominant trying to find that location. First outing I’m fine with what he did, just want to get that pitch count up and let it keep climbing.”

Rodriguez said his bullpens range from 25-30 pitches, so the D-backs stretched him out a bit with a pair of up-downs and Opening Day a month from Wednesday. He threw live batting practice on Friday.

As for his early impressions of being a Diamondback, Rodriguez had glowing reviews. He’s been a vocal veteran presence in the clubhouse with younger arms.

“I will say it has been better than I expected. Everything, teammates, ballpark, fans, staff, everything has been I think better than I was expecting,” Rodriguez said.

Joc Pederson, Alek Thomas updates

Joc Pederson was originally in Arizona’s starting lineup on Tuesday, but he was scratched and absent from camp for undisclosed personal reasons. Lovullo said he’d miss a couple days.

Alek Thomas remained active in camp despite his right wrist soreness, but the ailment will keep him from participating 100% for the time being. He ball tracked Ryan Thompson’s bullpen.

“There’s inflammation in there that we’ve got to work down before he gets more comfortable,” Lovullo said.

Lovullo said Thomas had imaging on Monday which showed not structural damage.

Don’t dive into home

Lovullo was frustrated with Arizona’s performance on Tuesday, a 10-3 loss, but he acknowledged how early it is, calling it a day you hate to see but that of teaching opportunities. Specifically the pitching and some defensive sharpness stood out.

“We won’t miss the opportunity to teach and talk about some of the things that didn’t go right,” Lovullo said. “That’s what spring training is all about. But at some point, we’ve got to start to eliminate some of the things we aren’t doing well. I’m more more aligned to accept it early on.”

The D-backs had a couple plays at the plate, starting with Ketel Marte beating out a throw home on a sacrifice fly ball in the first inning.

Lovullo said he was not a fan of diving in head first at home during spring training given the inherent injury risk, which is something the team talks about.

Jordan Lawlar’s defense

Lawlar is a standout athlete at shortstop, and he took some grounders during drills at second base on Tuesday. That said, he will still get just about every game rep at shortstop, Lovullo said.

The top prospect said he has not been approached about any other position as he continues to progress at short.

“I think it’s just practicing the right reps, the right fundamentals,” Lawlar told Arizona Sports of his progress. “I’ve never really had an infield coach, so it’s nice to have some different keys and tips that we’ve been able to work on over the last couple of years.”

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