Diamondbacks’ Eduardo Rodriguez feels 80% there as he works toward in-season form

Mar 9, 2024, 6:45 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  — Saturday was more like it for Arizona Diamondbacks newcomer Eduardo Rodriguez, who had his longest and sharpest start of spring training against the Cincinnati Reds at Salt River Fields.

Rodriguez got in 55 pitches through four innings, allowed one earned run on four hits with no walks and four punch outs. He surrendered an unearned run after Joc Pederson dropped a popup in left field.

“I feel like today was 80% that I normally am in the season,” Rodriguez said.

To get to 100%, Rodriguez is looking for a bit more oomph on the fastball.

“I noticed today it was like 90-92 (mph), so like 100% is 91-94 (mph) … but location-wise, I feel like it was 100%, the pitches were right where I wanted,” Rodriguez said. “… I know when I have my command and when I have my pitches going the right way that I’m gonna get good results.”

The D-backs are about 60% of the way through spring training from when pitchers and catchers reported, so in that sense he is ahead of the game.

Rodriguez’s average four-seamer on Saturday was 91.7 mph, about a half tick down from last season’s output. He expects to get there naturally as he continues to stretch out.

“I know how my body works already. I know the more stretching, more innings and more bullpens and all that, that will come,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not that much of a difference, it is probably like 1-2 more miles which is gonna help me get more swing-and-miss on the fastball.”

His command wasn’t quite there in his D-backs debut, and he improved as his second start progressed. Saturday was more along what he’s come to expect, which led to some quick outs to keep the pitch count down. He threw all five of his pitches for strikes and produced a couple whiffs on the slider he has worked to improve.

Rodriguez has also used this spring to build more chemistry with his catchers. He has a history with Tucker Barnhart from the 2022 season with the Detroit Tigers but not starter Gabriel Moreno or backup Jose Herrera.

Moreno caught Rodriguez on Saturday, and Rodriguez said they worked well and called pitches together with the PitchCom. Rodriguez said he’s liked that dynamic but would prefer to call his own pitches during the season.

“If I can call every pitch, it is going to be better because if I give up damage it’s gonna be on me,” Rodriguez said. “Today was great, I tried to call most of the pitches all the time but if they know me, they know the way that I pitch, I trust it and I throw it because they know what I want. For me it’s more like, if I’m going to give up something — homer or whatever — I like to give it up with a pitch I want to throw.”

Rodriguez had a “my bad” moment when he allowed a double to Luke Maile in the fourth inning on a sinker inside, as he said Moreno called something else.

He is in line for the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, and the third game of the regular season is three weeks away on March 30, giving him time to close that 20% gap.

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