Red Sox notes: Everyone is excited over Eduardo Rodriguez

Rob Bradford
February 20, 2019 - 9:32 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This isn't anything new. There have been other spring trainings where an excitement regarding Eduardo Rodriguez's potential has been in the air at JetBlue Park.

But listening to Alex Cora Tuesday it certainly seems the optimism might be a bit more definitive this time around.

"Eddie looks great, man," the Red Sox manager said. "Eddie is working on his slider now. He understands who he is a little more. The work he put in the offseason is paying off. He’s repeating his delivery. You ask any of those guys, everybody was watching. He’s kind of like the favorite pitcher of the whole camp. When he throws live BPs, everybody is out there watching. You saw that but stuff-wise, he’s unbelievable. Just a matter of him putting a whole season and we do feel it’s going to happen this year. For the first time in a while, he was able to just get ready for the season. There was no rehab. We know about the ankle. He’s a full go in PFPs and all that and he’s doing an outstanding job. Looking forward, he’ll be great for us. He’s going to be good."

Perhaps it's as simple of health and maturity. This are two things Rodriguez can claim so far this time around heading into the Grapefruit League season.

The evolution was on display in front of a bevy of onlookers -- including Pedro Martinez -- when executing a live batting practice session.

"That was one of the most impressive BPs that you could see," Martinez told "No hesitation, no stopping. It was beautiful to watch."

The former Red Sox great added, "Eddie, I think, physically is more mature now," Martinez said. "He understands his body better. He's understanding where he needs to improve. He's not really worried about his position physically, because this is his first time in Spring Training the last few years that he comes over and there's no worries. He can just pitch."

Because of physical limitations, Rodriguez has only started in eight spring training games over the past four seasons. But now with his knee injury behind him, and the confidence springboard that was pitching a solid 5 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series, this season has a different feel for Rodriguez.

"Besides giving him a hard time all the time, they want him to be great," Cora said. "They see it. at one point in their careers, Sale and Price were that guy. They’re hard on him because they know how talented he is. Sometimes he gets caught up on who he wants to be. He wants to be Chris one day and Rick the next day and David the next outing. We want him to be Eduardo. Eduardo is a good big league pitcher. That changeup, we saw it in Game 4. When he has that combination of fastball up, changeup down, he’s lethal. They love him and they want him to be great."

- Another pitcher who left an impression Tuesday was Rick Porcello.

"From what Dana (LeVangie) said, that was his best bullpen since Rick’s been here," Cora said. "Location. Delivery. Action on the pitches. He was very satisfied with the way he threw the ball. Derek was here last year. He was very important for Rick. And I’m all in for that. Mikey will b here in the upcoming weeks. I love that. And I love that about this organization. We’ve got some guys that were very successful in the big leagues, and then we got me and Lou. We weren’t that good. But, it’s cool to have those guys here. They care. They do care. Rick, he loves it. The interaction is cool to listen to those guys, and exchange thoughts and all that."

- After listening to Cora Tuesday, it certainly seems as though Matt Barnes might have the inside track on the closer competition.

This was evident in the manager's explanation of why he believes this bullpen, as currently constituted, will work out.

"I think stuff-wise, we have stuff, man. We’ve got stuff in the bullpen," Cora said. "At one point in his career, he had no saves, Craig (Kimbrel). Now the way his career is going, he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. It’s about opportunity and putting these guys to be in the best spots possible and that’s on me. We’ll have all the information, we’ll see where we go and March 28, hopefully, we’re up one honestly. I want to get it over with right away. We’ll make our decisions. Regardless of what happens that day, it happened last year, I know, it was a tough day. We’ll have our plan, we’ll stick to it and we’re going to be fine. I mean, if you start looking at the numbers, (Matt) Barnes and Craig, the way we used Barnesy last year, if you guys do your homework like David told you guys last year, you guys do that homework and compare Kimbrel’s usage last year which was great, he was awesome for us. But the way we used Barnes and the situations, the times he went out there in a tie game or up one, up two, and compared to the way used Craig, you guys would be surprised. Also, look for the OPS, the hitters Barnesy faced last year and Craig Kimbrel faced, that’s your homework."

- Major League Baseball rules czar Joe Torre was in camp Tuesday. One of the takeaways was that if a team believes there is sign-stealing going they may be encouraged to take it up with the umpiring crew to deal with. 

- The Red Sox' starter for their exhibition season opener against Northeastern? Mike Shawaryn.

A fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Maryland, Shawaryn got six starts with Triple-A Pawtucket last season after managing a 3.59 ERA in 19 starts for Double-A Porland. The righty, who typically throws his fastball between 90-92 mph, developed a cutter in 2018 that has helped garner attention from the Red Sox' higher-ups.

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