Rodgers optimistic about rehab progress

After missing 2017 season, right-hander feels he 'can be ready for Opening Day'

January 10th, 2018

HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher has progressed to throwing long toss in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and hopes to be back into game action by midseason, he said. Rodgers, who had the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow repaired last May 2, leaves for Florida on Monday to continue his rehab.

"I feel really good," Rodgers said during a stop Wednesday on the Astros Caravan fan outreach tour. "I feel like I can be ready for Opening Day, but obviously I can take my time in the rehab process."

Rodgers, 27, made only three starts at Triple-A Fresno last year before experiencing elbow discomfort and ultimately having surgery. In 2016, he was named the Astros' Minor League Pitcher of the Year and made his big league debut. He went 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA, 23 walks, 116 strikeouts, two complete games and one shutout in 22 starts for the Grizzlies.

"It was tough missing pretty much the entire season, but I found a new love for baseball," Rodgers said. "When something you realize is taken away, you realize how much you love it. I'm definitely not taking anything for granted with this game and I'm going to love every second when I come back."

Rodgers' injury likely cost him some Major League starts last year, considering all the injuries the Astros had in their rotation. Barring more injuries, cracking a starting unit that includes , , , Charlie Morton, and Brad Peacock will be tough.

"Unfortunately, there's injuries in this game and I'll always be ready if someone happens to get hurt," Rodgers said. "Hopefully no one does. Having those guys in the rotation means we have a good chance of repeating."