ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Eduardo Rodriguez shut down with lat strain, Diamondbacks look at Plan B options

Mar 22, 2024, 2:01 PM | Updated: 2:51 pm

Eduardo Rodriguez...

Eduardo Rodriguez during Arizona Diamondbacks spring training at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez suffered a lat strain during his most recent spring training start and will be shut down from throwing until asymptomatic, manager Torey Lovullo announced.

Rodriguez exited Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs with left lat tightness, and he underwent an MRI on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old southpaw was surprised by the results that will likely land him on the injured list as the regular season starts Thursday.

“I know you guys want to know lengths of time … but we don’t know that, it’s going to depend on how he progresses,” Lovullo said. “We’re gonna assess it daily and then build it out from there. The return will be determined by the length of time he’s down.”

“I don’t feel the way that it shows, but they’re the ones who make the decisions,” Rodriguez added. “This isn’t gonna be too long. I just feel like it was a little tightness in there, but I feel great today. I know I’m gonna be back faster than we think.”

The Diamondbacks signed Rodriguez to a four-year contract worth $80 million over the winter as a stabilizing force in the rotation, fitting into the third spot behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, ahead of Brandon Pfaadt.

Now the D-backs will turn to their depth, entering the season with three starting pitchers 26 years old or younger.

Ryne Nelson, Tommy Henry and Bryce Jarvis remained in the fifth starter competition throughout camp, but it appears two of the trio will be in the rotation to start the year. Lovullo said the likelihood the D-backs pick someone as a long man out of the bullpen increased with the news, potentially opening up a role for all three.

Lovullo said there is not a pitcher whom the D-backs sent out who is in consideration for one of those spots.

“I feel terrible for the athlete … but we are going to be okay,” Lovullo said. “We’re going to be fine because we have understudies, we have players in every position that are going to cover this until he steps back into the arena.”

Rodriguez noticed the tightness while warming up for his second inning of work at Sloan Park after feeling normal in the first. He continued to warm up at what he called 75% and the feeling persisted, so he figured to come off the field before trying to go 100% and possibly making it worse.

The veteran said he feels 95% normal at this point and hates to stop throwing when he feels capable. But at the same time he laid out the importance of being cautious to not miss extended time by pushing too far.

“They asked me ‘Do you want to do the MRI,’ and I said yes because that’s a part of the body you need to be careful with,” Rodriguez said. “I’m glad we did it because maybe I keep throwing like that and I do something wrong and I lost the rest of the year or something like three or four months. I prefer to do it the way we did because it’s gonna be less time.”

Rodriguez went through something similar last season. He left a start in September for the Detroit Tigers against the Los Angeles Dodgers with scapula spasms after feeling tightness in his shoulder area, but he never underwent an MRI and was back on the mound a week later.

He will rehab at Salt River Fields, but Lovullo expects him to be around the team when he can be.

“He’s a total pro, and he takes care of his brother,” Lovullo said. “And that’s a really important feature in this clubhouse, in this culture to be there for your teammates.”

Rodriguez has meshed in the Arizona clubhouse in spring training as a mentor figure for many younger pitchers who came through big league camp.

The lefty said his plan in the meantime is to continue conditioning, getting massages and staying as close to ready as he can to avoid an extended return to action. His goal is to start back up at 60-75%, not zero.

“I feel kind of sad because I was excited with everything, so the plan right now is for me just to keep my strength,” Rodriguez said.

“For a starting pitcher, you know, if you lost one week and a half without throwing or two weeks, that’s when you got to start from zero. As a starting pitcher that starts from zero, that means you gotta go to live BPs, bullpens, two innings, three innings until you go to 75 pitches and that’s a long time.”

Rodriguez has had his share of ailments throughout his career, as ribcage and finger injuries held him to 43 starts over the past two seasons in Detroit.

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