February 22, 2019

Pedro And Sale Impressed With Rodriguez's Early Pitches; Red Sox Play Their First Game Today

Eduardo Rodriguez is already throwing filth in spring training, judging from the reactions of Chris Sale and Pedro Martinez.

Sale has been helping EdRo develop his slider and Pedro liked what he saw: "That's ridiculous. Just ridiculous. ... That was one of the most impressive BPs that you could see. No hesitation, no stopping. It was beautiful to watch."

It's exciting to hear Pedro's words because maybe this is the year that Rodriguez - who turns 26 on April 7 - will consistently display the brilliance we have seen from time to time over his four seasons in Boston:
I see for the first time he is demanding more out of every pitch. He's asking for more and more. He's making good quality pitches, but he wants to improve them. ... Eddie, I think, physically is more mature now. He understands his body better. He's understanding where he needs to improve. ... [T]his is his first time in spring training the last few years that he comes over and there's no worries [about his knee]. He can just pitch.
Manager Alex Cora (who has already offered the well-worn cliche that Rodriguez is in the proverbial "best shape of his life"!):
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. [Why?] Besides giving him a hard time all the time, they want him to be great. 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. ... When he has that combination of fastball up, changeup down, he's lethal. ... [It's] just a matter of him putting a whole season [together], and we do feel it's going to happen this year.
You've got Cy Youngs from these guys here. I love the way they treat me. Like a little brother. But I want to get to that point. I want to get to the point where I can be available to win a Cy Young ...
Steven Wright will work out of the bullpen in 2019:
Everyone is used to seeing, especially the way the game is now, 95-plus, so to have someone throwing a knuckleball, I'm already throwing 20 mph slower from everyone else. That can be a different look and a different viewpoint to the hitters.
We talked about it going into October. Everybody thought he was going to be the guy in October. Too bad he got hurt. But he can come in and give us three [innings], give us one. He does an outstanding job holding runners. It's tough on the catchers, but all of ours can catch the knuckleball, so I'm not worried about bringing him in with traffic.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner says it is "extremely unlikely" that the team will sign Craig Kimbrel.

The Red Sox will play their first game of the spring today, against the Northeastern Huskies. Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal relayed some information from Cora:
Blake Swihart will catch, Christian Vazquez will DH, Tzu-Wei Lin will play short, Bobby Dalbec at third, Chad de la Guerra will play second, Sam Travis will be at first. Tate Matheny will be in the outfield, along with Cole Sturgeon.

Mike Shawaryn will start, followed by Darwinzon Hernandez, Domingo Tapia and Josh Taylor.

On Saturday, against the Yankees, the Sox will use Josh Smith, Marcus Walden, Travis Lakins, Erasmo Ramirez and, according to Cora "some hard thrower we'll have from the minor leagues that will shock everybody."

Cora added that Sandy Leon and Rafael Devers could be in the lineup Saturday against New York. Andrew Benintendi, Eduardo Nunez, Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt could play Sunday.

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