‘No big deal’: Tigers’ Rodriguez not stressing a likely hostile environment in L.A.

Detroit News

Anaheim, Calif. — Eduardo Rodriguez has been around long enough to sniff out a storyline well before it’s presented to him.

So when a couple reporters approached him before the game, he already knew the topic.

“You want to talk about L.A., right?” he said.

Well, as a matter of fact. Rodriguez’s next start will be Monday or Tuesday against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. You will remember at the trade deadline, Rodriguez — as was his right with a no-trade clause in his contract — nixed a trade that would have sent him to the Dodgers.

The reception he gets will be, well, interesting.

“Why?” Rodriguez said.

Because of the trade deadline drama?

“It’s not a big deal,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is certainly no stranger to pitching in hostile environments. He pitched in Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox. He pitched in pivotal moments in the 2018 World Series for the Red Sox in Dodger Stadium. In that sense, it won’t be anything new.

“I’ve pitched in tough games like that where I had the whole stadium cheering against me,” he said. “I had it happen there in the World Series. It’s not a big deal. I know how it feels and it’s not going to make any difference.”

The difference this time, though, is that Rodriguez will be received more as a villain than just an opponent. Even though he said repeatedly his decision to stay with the Tigers had nothing to do with the city of Los Angeles or the Dodgers franchise.

It was a family decision and a business decision.

That doesn’t mean Dodger Nation will see it that way.

“I don’t think Eduardo will approach it any differently, to be honest,” manager AJ Hinch said. “But I think people around him will, just because of the conversation that was had around the deadline. It will give him the opportunity to get some opinions thrown at him from various parts of the stadium.”

In other words, he’s going to be booed lustily.

“It’s just something I learned in Boston and pitching on those stages, especially in the World Series,” Rodriguez said. “You really have to get all that noise away and go out and enjoy your game. You have to keep the noise as low as you can, that’s going to help you the most.

“And the only way to do that is to get outs and get out of those tough situations in the game.”

Rodriguez is due for one of those shutdown gems he was producing every five days earlier this season. He battled his command in his last two starts, allowing seven runs with nine walks and nine strikeouts in 11⅓ innings.

If there is any extra motivation, it’s because of that. Not the deadline drama.

“It’s just another team, you know,” he said. “For me, I’m just going to go out and pitch against the Dodgers like I’ve always done. It isn’t going to be a big deal. Just another game where I’m trying to win. Just go out and do my job.

“That’s the way I see it and that’s the way they’re going to see it, too. They want to win and I want to win. For me, any team wearing another uniform is my enemy. It’s not a big deal about what happened at the trade deadline. It’s just another team that I will be trying to beat.”

Father and son

It’s not exactly old hat, but they’ve been through this before.

Last season, Tigers’ Tyler Nevin was playing for the Orioles and he brought the lineup card to home plate before a game against the Angels in Baltimore. He was met there by his father, Angels manager and former Tiger Phil Nevin.

This reunion, though, had a different twist. Nevin grew up in Poway, California, about 90 miles from Anaheim and Angel Stadium. Meaning, a much larger contingent of family and friends would be able to share this father and son reunion.

“If anything, it’s cooler this time,” said Tyler, who got the start at third base Saturday. “I’ve always been on the East Coast, for the most part, and it was tough travel for some of my older relatives. This will be a first for a lot of my family to see me play in a big-league uniform.

“We got the first one out of the way last year. But it’s a really cool moment for the family.”

Saturday was a tough day for Phil Nevin. The Angels announced that star Shohei Ohtani’s season was officially over due to an oblique strain. In the offseason, he is likely to have surgery to repair the ligament damage in his right elbow.

Competing against his son, that had to feel like a pleasant diversion.

“I actually feel worse for him,” Tyler said. “I definitely feel worse for him. Just because he’s always going to push for me. My family is always going to push for me. And he’s still trying to win a game. I can only imagine what’s going through his head on what the ideal scenario would be.

“I will let him worry about that and I’ll just play my game.”

Around the horn

Hinch was in the bullpen before the game taking in Casey Mize’s latest bullpen session. It was, he said, impressive. There is a chance Mize will throw to hitters in a live bullpen session early next week in Los Angeles.

… Entering the game Saturday, Tigers’ starting pitchers had allowed three runs or less in 16 of the last 18 games, with an American League-low 2.71 ERA and 92 strikeouts in that stretch. They held hitters to a .199 batting average, second-lowest in the league.

Tarik Skubal and Reese Olson started four of those games, Rodriguez three, Matt Manning and Alex Faedo two, Sawyer Gipson-Long and Joey Wentz one and there was one bullpen game.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter/X: @cmccosky

Tigers at Angels

First pitch: 4:07 p.m. Sunday, Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

SCOUTING REPORT

LHP Reid Detmers (3-10, 4.77), Angels: He’s got fairly extreme reverse splits, with lefties hitting him much better than right-handed hitters (.304 average, .908 OPS). His curveball and sliders, his best secondary pitches, haven’t played nearly as well against lefties. He’s coming off a quality start, though, beating the Mariners in Seattle, allowing three runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

TBA Tigers: This will be a bullpen game with lefty Joey Wentz expected to get the bulk of the innings. Manager AJ Hinch will determine who opens the game based on his bullpen usage Saturday.

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