E-Rod (scapular spasm) uncertain to pitch again in ’23

Detroit Tigers

LOS ANGELES — It had been billed as Eduardo Rodriguez’s first outing at Dodger Stadium since exercising his no-trade rights to scuttle a deal to the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline. Instead, it became an injury-shortened evening for Rodriguez, and maybe even his final outing as a Tiger.

The veteran left-hander left Detroit’s 8-3 loss Monday in the fourth inning with a left scapular spasm. Rodriugez will be further evaluated on Tuesday. With less than two weeks left in the Tigers’ season, he might not have enough time to return.

“His health is the No. 1 priority,” manager A.J. Hinch said.

Rodriguez gave up a Max Muncy single leading off the fourth. His reaction after a first-pitch strike to Chris Taylor brought out Hinch and athletic trainer Matt Rankin. After a lengthy discussion, Rodriguez threw a warmup pitch but lofted it to the backstop, prompting Hinch to pull him.

“He had a scap spasm, either when he stopped or the pitch before,” Hinch said. “When we went out there, he just wanted to take a breath and had a little bit of a hard time kind of settling down. …

“He really wanted to throw a pitch, and he felt like it was just a little bit of a spasm and that he was going to be fine. And then when he tried to throw, he was very uncomfortable, so we just took him out of the game.”

Though Rodriguez drew some scattered boos during pregame introductions Monday, there was no widespread reaction to suggest Dodgers fans held it against him. 

“You know, everybody makes their decisions,” Dodgers slugger and Rodriguez’s former Boston teammate J.D. Martinez said. “Everyone’s got their choices why they did it. He texted me and apologized why he couldn’t text back and stuff like that. 

“It was a family decision. I get it, man. He’s got to do what he’s got to do for him. It’s understandable. Obviously we wanted him here, but it is what it is.”

Rodriguez, who wasn’t available after Monday’s game, said going into his start that he’d treat it like any other outing.

“I’ve already pitched in tough games like that and had the whole stadium against me,” he said Saturday. “It’s not a big deal. I pitched against the Yankees a lot, too, in Yankee Stadium. I know how it feels. It isn’t going to make any difference. I feel like it’s going to be the same way for me as if I pitch against another team. …

“It’s something that I learned when I was in Boston, because I pitched on a lot of stages, especially in the postseason, where you really have to get all that noise away and just go out there and enjoy your game. Keeping the noise as low as you can is what I think helps the most, and the only way to do that is just getting outs and getting out of the tough situations in a game.”

Rodriguez retired seven of his first eight batters, but the exception was a home run from Martinez. Once Miguel Rojas laid down a bunt single with one out in the third, Rodriguez’s outing fell apart in his second trip through the dangerous Dodgers batting order. Mookie Betts’ walk and Freddie Freeman’s single loaded the bases before Will Smith battled Rodriguez for 12 pitches, leading to a sacrifice fly. Three pitches later, Martinez homered again, this time a three-run drive.

Rodriguez finished with five runs on five hits over three-plus innings, walking one and striking out one.

Rodriguez will face another decision once the season ends. His contract includes a clause allowing him to opt out after the World Series and forgo the final four years of the six-year contract he signed as a free agent after the 2021 season. The opt-out clause was one reason the Tigers were looking into trades, hoping to avoid losing him for nothing, and one reason they had so much difficulty finding a deal. Though Rodriguez could’ve been a two-month rental, he could also end up a long-term commitment.

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