In Grayson Rodriguez’s first two starts this spring, he pitched on the road, facing lineups littered with major leaguers. Sunday’s outing, his first at Ed Smith Stadium, came opposite a Boston Red Sox split-squad team mostly absent noteworthy hitters.
But that group got to the Orioles’ top pitching prospect, who had his worst performance of the spring. After three dominant innings in which the 23-year-old right-hander retired nine of 10 Red Sox with six strikeouts, Rodriguez failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the fourth inning. He said his issue in the frame was “just trying to throw strikes” instead of actually doing it, more frustrated he veered from the zone-attacking focus he’s had leading up to and throughout spring than his final line.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily worried about results,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something that’s kind of been our motto coming up through the minor leagues. It only matters what you do in the big leagues. Right now, obviously, spring training is the time we can get our work in, and right now, we’re just gonna keep attacking the zone.”
Manager Brandon Hyde echoed that idea, saying he viewed the fourth inning as a “good learning experience” and nothing more as Rodriguez tries to earn a spot in the Orioles’ season-opening rotation.
“I think it’s OK, honestly, to have those type of innings,” Hyde said, “and we’ll see how he bounces back.”
Rodriguez was especially pleased with the results of trying to throw his slider harder than he has. Catcher Adley Rutschman, whose opposite-field grand slam in the fourth gave him home runs in both games he’s caught Rodriguez this spring, said Rodriguez’s cutter was particularly sharp.
But Rodriguez bemoaned his changeup, his signature secondary pitch, in the fourth, saying he didn’t throw it in the strike zone to get chases when he didn’t.
“Honestly, if it’s not a strike, guys aren’t gonna swing at it,” he said. “That was kind of the thing here. When you don’t get ahead of hitters, you start to struggle.”
None of the three hits off Rodriguez in the fourth were put into play particularly hard, but Rodriguez didn’t help himself and also issued two walks.
“I think that’s just a good experience for him to learn from,” Hyde said. “The stuff is there. Now, it’s about really competing and using it in the strike zone more.”
Rodriguez agreed with Hyde’s assessment of his stuff, as did Rutschman. …read more
Source:: The Mercury News