Third baseman Todd Frazier stood within earshot of Carlos Rodon, so he expected to have a few calming things to offer to the 24-year-old left-hander Wednesday.
Rodon, on the disabled list since Opening Day after working through discomfort in his shoulder area (biceps bursitis), made his first start of the season in the Yankees’ 12-3 win at Guaranteed Rate Field, and he looked anxious — or rusty — if where his pitches were going was any indication.
Expected to be a top-of-the-rotation starter for years to come, Rodon’s first appearance drew more than casual attention. He brought his mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to the event but walked six batters and needed 94 pitches to get through five innings. He gave up two hits, both singles to Miguel Andujar in his major-league debut, and allowed three runs.
“Great stuff, great life [on my pitches], but the goal is to put the ball in the zone and get guys out early in counts,’’ Rodon said. “It was good to kick some rust off. I feel pretty good. My arm feels good, and my body feels good.’’
All of the runs, scored in the 37-pitch first inning, were unearned because of shortstop Tim Anderson’s high throw that could have ended the inning with no damage. It was Anderson’s 18th error.
But Rodon’s damage was self-inflicted by the three walks in the first. He threw one pitch behind the head of Didi Gregorius and another behind the head of star rookie -Aaron Judge in the second.
Whether it was nervousness, rust or basic lack of command might become clearer in his upcoming starts. Even as he was finishing with four scoreless innings, Rodon’s mid-90s velocity was there, but he was wild in and out of the strike zone.
“As he pitches more, he will get a better feel and pitch better,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
Even as they were about to lose for the eighth time in 10 games and tumble to an American League-worst 33-44, the Sox felt better just having him back.
“If I have to call timeout every inning, I might have to do it,’’ -Frazier said before the game. “He’s still young and still trying to understand how to pitch in the major leagues. Today hopefully [becomes] a good sign for him. He understands what happened in spring training was a pain in the butt.
“He doesn’t need to come out and get after it right away. He’s still learning. He’s a guy we’re going to look forward to in the future maybe being our No. 1 guy.’’
Maybe the best thing Frazier had to offer was making a lunging stop of a Gary Sanchez smash to start a double after Rodon had walked Judge to open the inning. Rodon’s final line: Five innings, two hits, three runs, no earned runs, six walks, two strikeouts, two wild pitches.
“It was just good to be back on the mound,’’ Rodon said.
Rodon left trailing 3-2. The -Yankees (42-34) blew it open against the Sox bullpen.
Renteria and reliever Jake -Petricka were ejected for arguing ball and strike calls, and judging by a smirk or two running across Rodon’s face while he was in the game, Rodon seemed to have some issues with umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s strike zone, but such is the fallout when pitchers are missing their spots as Rodon was.
Rodon pitched 17 innings over four minor-league rehab starts leading to Wednesday, the last three with Class AAA Charlotte, and was banged up for 19 earned runs. He walked nine and struck out 17.
Masahiro Tanaka (6-7) gave up two runs over six innings for the Yankees.
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