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Eduardo Rodriguez moved quickly, but won't say Orioles should regret deal

Eduardo Rodriguez moved quickly, but won't say Orioles should regret deal
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 9, 2015, in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Eduardo Rodriguez was diplomatic when asked by a Boston columnist after Tuesday's 1-0 Orioles win whether he thought the Orioles made a mistake in dealing him at last year's trade deadline for reliever Andrew Miller.

"I don't know," Rodriguez said, capping off a session with reporters in which the 22-year-old left-hander said all the right things on a night where he pitched pretty well, too.

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Rodriguez threw six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking three with seven strikeouts. He's allowed just one earned run in 20 2/3 innings over three starts with the Red Sox.

The Orioles have made clear that they don't regret dealing him -- to get a talent like Miller, who helped them to the American League Championship Series last year, you have to give someone up.

They also say he's the same pitcher he was when he was traded, and to argue that is semantics. Rodriguez, however, clearly has already reached the potential that was evident through those days in Class-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, where I saw him at least a half-dozen times in 2013 and 2014.

His fastball, which sat in the low-90s and was located well at the knees to either side of the plate, has averaged 94-95 mph in the majors. It's a pitch he's thrown a ton through his first three starts, but as Red Sox manager John Farrell said, "he had a lot of success with it."

"He's so talented with his fastball, there's a reason why he uses it as much as he does," Farrell said.

His changeup and slider were both around 83-85 mph then, and those pitches are a bit harder now, too. Perhaps more importantly, the shape and effectiveness they had in the lower velocity bands has carried over to when he throws the pitches harder.

Rodriguez will certainly regress, but it's clear he's reached the level he showed he might be capable of through physical and mental maturation.

What we're seeing, in truth, is a more focused, constant effort from Rodriguez. At times, his focus seemed to drift through minor league outings, but after a team strung together a couple of hits, that's when the version of Rodriguez that has mowed through three major league lineups came out.

His fastball would have a little more life. His breaking ball had a little more bite. Now, his pitches look like that from the first pitch of every batter.

Regret is a strong word, and one no one will use when it comes to this trade. The Red Sox manager's words indicate they certainly don't, either.

Farrell said: "Through three starts, we're looking at a pretty special young man."

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