Rodon throws 4 scoreless innings, fans 5 in spring debut
TEMPE, Ariz. — Manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper want to see Carlos Rodon take the next step. That would mean more efficient outings that involve fewer pitches and more innings.
“He tends to get a very elevated pitch count early,’’ Renteria said. “Five innings, he’s already at 100 pitches sometimes. At six innings, he’s at 110 or 115. We want him to become more efficient, trust his stuff a bit more.’’
Rodon took a needed step Sunday by appearing in a game against the Angels, his first of the spring after pitching simulated games and working on the back fields. He struck out five, including Mike Trout looking, and walked one over four scoreless innings. He allowed only one hit, a cue-shot single through the right side of the infield by Albert Pujols.
Rodon, who threw 65 pitches (38 for strikes), missed his location, but got a called third strike to Trout. He also had more 3-1 counts than he wanted, but was pleased with his first outing.
“We mixed in a little bit of everything,’’ Rodon said. “Mostly fastball-slider but we threw some changeups and some cutters.’’
The plan is for Rodon to get another start Friday against the A’s and then March 29, the Sox’ last day in Arizona.
The hope is to lower pitch counts when the season begins.
“His ball has explosive life that moves on both sides of the plate,’’ Renteria said. “We want him to attack the strike zone, let it do its stuff and maybe we can use him deeper in the ball game.”
“Nine innings, 90 pitches would be awesome,’’ Rodon said last week. “Everyone wants to do that. But that doesn’t happen all the time. I think of it in innings. Get six, seven innings under the belt, preferably leave with the lead and let the bullpen take over.’’
Minor league first baseman Brandon Dulin was acquired from the Royals for cash or a player to be named. A 12th-round Royals draft pick in 2013, Dulin, 24, posted a .254/.312/.391 slash line in 269 plate appearances in Class A last season.