BOWIE -- Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is one of the Orioles' best prospects, so when he twisted and sprained his knee while lifting weights in late April, Double-A Bowie manager Gary Kendall knew to be cautious.
Rodriguez, 21, went more than a month between starts, but Kendall thinks it was well worth the wait. Though Rodriguez may have been able to pitch sooner, the manager didn’t want soreness to influence his mechanics, potentially causing other injuries.
“You don’t want to take any chances, especially so young in his career,” Kendall said about the Orioles' No. 3 prospect, according to Baseball America. “What we’re looking at is a final result of him pitching in Baltimore. He rebounded from it, and there’s no symptoms, so he’s doing well.”
Before Sunday’s game, Rodriguez didn’t look entirely asymptomatic.
While jogging back and forth between cones, there was visible hesitation when he changed directions by planting and pushing off his left leg. But even if there is any lingering pain, it hasn’t affected his game.
Rodriguez has pitched 10 2/3 innings in two starts since returning from the sprain and has allowed just five hits and two runs.
“My knee feels good,” he said in Spanish. “What happened, happened. It’s time to keep looking forward.
“If it were my choice, I’d be [in the major leagues] tomorrow. I’m always ready for that moment.”
Rodriguez, who is scheduled to start Tuesday, cruised through Low-A Delmarva in 2012 and split last season between High-A Frederick and Bowie. He has impressed Kendall in Bowie with his arsenal, consisting of a two- and four-seam fastball alongside a breaking ball and changeup.
That repertoire has garnered plenty of attention, even though Rodriguez is just 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA in five starts this season. He demonstrates impressive poise under pressure, according to Kendall, and has a bright future that the manager didn’t want to jeopardize.
“The development process, it’s not just about developing as a player, but if there’s an injury or soreness, we have time,” Kendall said. “I don’t think anybody here is 100 percent, but he’s close.”