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Red Sox Cora pleased with E-Rod outing against visiting Mets

March 13, 2019
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As far as the Red Sox starting pitching goes, they're in pretty good shape.

The rotation consists of David Price and Rick Porcello -- former Cy Young award winners, Chris Sale -- a top-5 finalist for the award the past six seasons, Nathan Eovaldi -- an electric right-hander with impressive velocity who's coming off of a dominant 2018 post-season.

And then there's Eduardo Rodriguez.

The lefty, who made his third spring start Saturday against the Mets Saturday, is the longest tenured member of the Sox current starting staff and has been improving each season, lowering his ERA every year since 2016.

Rodriguez worked four innings, yielding just one run on three hits, striking out three and taking the loss in what would be an eventual 10-2 Mets victory.

"I mean, I was feeling really good. Everything, all my pitches," he said following his outing. "I liked the way I was working today."

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora also liked what he saw out of the 25-year-old, who turns 26 in early April.

"Excellent. That was good. Good stuff," Cora said post-game of Rodriguez' outing. "He was more aggressive than the last one. We actually sent him out for the fourth and he was 20 pitches from where we wanted, and he made 12, so, that's a step towards where we want. It was good. Aggressive in the strike zone. Weak contact. So, he was good."

It's no secret Cora has a warm relationship with his players, even if that means taking the "tough love" route with some of them. Rodriguez is one.

"Out of the five guys, he's the only one I can do it," he said with a laugh. "He's a great pitcher. He's got great stuff. I want him to be great. Like I told him the other day, 'The day that you don't read about you, or I don't tell you what's wrong with you, that's the way you have to worry.' Because that means I really don't care, and I do care."

Rodriguez said being more aggressive and efficient are goals Cora has set out for him, and that the manager has kept no secret to the public. Again, that "tough love" approach.

"That's something that I know I need to do. That's something I come to spring training to work on, no matter who says it. That's just in my mind -- go out there and try to get outs quick like I was doing today and that's something I'm going to keep working on and get to the season with that mindset."

One things for sure, the wealth of knowledge between the five starters is abundant, with Rodriguez saying they all communicate together.

"I mean, these guys -- we've got three lefties and two righties on the rotation. Those are guys I can work with all the time, talk to them, go out and see their bullpens and play catch with them and everything. Ask them questions and all that," Rodriguez said. "They're available to talk to me all the time, that's something good and I take a lot of advantage from the lefties we have over here."

After E-Rod departed, the bullpen surrendered three, three-run innings in the fifth, sixth and eighth.

Matt Barnes made his spring debut and got touched up for three runs on four hits, striking out one.

With bullpen depth issues at the forefront of what may be this team's achilles heel, Barnes is not one Cora is too worried about.

"I mean, compared to last year, he was throwing 85/86 [mph] last year. He was throwing 95 today," Cora said. "We're not even worried about that one. It's good that he showed that he's rested, he's healthy, and from there on he'll make adjustments and start getting people out."

Tyler Thornburg pitched the sixth and got tagged for three runs himself on four hits -- another shaky outing from an arm the Sox are needing to turn it around.

"From the windup, he was rushing, from the stretch he slowed down. Pedro [Martinez] was in the dugout talking about his landing and all that," Cora said. "Good breaking balls, but the fastball needs to go to certain spots with him."

Thornburg was welcomed into the game by impressive Mets prospect Pete Alonso, who was hitting .409 with five extra-base hits and five RBI heading into the day.

Alonso mashed a towering solo home run to left center to give New York its second run of the game at that point.

Josh Taylor was to follow and he also gave up three runs, this time over two innings. Domingo Tapia worked a scoreless ninth.

Another Mets prospect, J.D. Davis, showed that he wasn't the only J.D. on the field who could play ball that day.

Davis went 3-for-4 on the afternoon and scored a run while playing a very sure-handed third base.

He was acquired by the Mets this past January via trade with the Houston Astros.

Davis won the Pacific Coast League (AAA) batting title last year hitting a modest .342.

Zach Wheeler got the start for the Mets and was in command over his four innings of work, giving up just one hit and striking out three, earning the win.

Center fielder Brendan Nimmo went 2-for-4, including a triple, driving in two runs.

A familiar face in Florida, former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow got a nice hand from the crowd, though he went hitless in one at bat, grounding out to first base with runners on second and third.

Tebow was sent to AAA Tuesday afternoon.

The Sox have been giving up some crooked numbers as of late, having dropped their fourth straight game including Saturday's loss, being outscored 32-6 over that stretch.

Cora isn't too worried about the defending World Series champions.

"I think last year the young guys pitched better. In spring training, your record is the last third of the game. Last year we were really good at the last third.

"As long as the first five innings are clean defensively and [we] do the things we usually do, we're fine with it."

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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