E-Rod in 'good spirits' despite tightness as timeline still in question

March 20th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One day after was removed early with lat tightness, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said the lefty was still feeling it but had improved.

"I was next to him when he was getting examined and he seemed to be in good spirits," Lovullo said. "And the medical staff was encouraged."

Rodriguez, the projected No. 3 starter, got the nod Tuesday night against the Cubs and struck out one batter in a scoreless first inning. However, something happened during his warmups for the bottom of the second, and he was removed after a visit from Lovullo and a trainer.

"We feel good about him speaking up when he did, and we feel like we dodged a bullet," said Lovullo.

Lovullo said Rodriguez may be sent for an MRI exam, but it hasn't happened yet.

"I'm going to remain optimistic that he can be [ready for the regular season], but it's not 100 percent," Lovullo said. "He's got to be asymptomatic before we put him back out there."

For Rodriguez not to miss any time, Lovullo said the veteran lefty will have to make his next scheduled turn through the rotation, which would be his last before the regular season.

"We'll know in the next few days," Lovullo said.

Rodriguez left a start for the Tigers on Sept. 18 with a left scapular spasm, but he was back on the mound six days later and closed the season with back-to-back seven-inning starts in which he allowed one total run.

Lovullo wasn't sure whether that injury was related to the current issue.

Henry bounces back nicely

Lefty Tommy Henry, battling for the fifth spot in the D-backs' rotation, made his sixth appearance and fourth start of the spring on Wednesday in the D-backs 5-1 victory over the Rockies. He held the Rockies scoreless on no hits and one walk over 3 1/3 innings at Salt River Fields.

"I was happy with the execution," he said. "We made a game plan to be kind of more aggressive with our sequences, more of a full mix early [in the game], and I think that helped. I think we saw a little bit more off-balance swings today."

Henry had struggled of late, allowing five earned runs in back-to-back starts, including a three-homer day against the Royals on March 9, so this efficient three-strikeout outing was a nice turnaround.

"I felt like through my first few outings, I wasn't getting a ton of off-balance swings," he said. "I feel like people were on time very often, and that's kind of a frustrating way to pitch."

Lovullo has liked the staff's approach lately.

"Our starting pitching has come along over the past week," the manager said. "Last week I made a comment that our starting pitchers needed to pick it up, and they have. So I couldn't be more pleased with how camp has been going. We've been getting after it pretty good."

Henry, who went 5-4 with a 4.15 ERA in 17 outings (16 starts) last season, is competing with Ryne Nelson and Bryce Jarvis for what appeared to be the final spot in the D-backs' rotation. Depending on Rodriguez's status, that could change to two open spots.

NL West adds another mega star

Since the conclusion of the 2023 World Series, the NL West has seen many star players join its ranks. That list grew by one on Tuesday night when the Giants' signing of reigning NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell became official.

"I'm not surprised whatsoever," Lovullo said. "It really seems like everyone wants to come to the NL West for some reason. Keep the good players out of there. But we embrace the challenge. The Giants were going to be a good team without him. They're an even better team with him."

Worth noting

Christian Walker hit his first home run of the spring on Wednesday, taking Rockies righty Peter Lambert deep to left in the fourth inning.

Eugenio Suárez launched his second spring homer two innings later, a Statcast-projected 443-foot moonshot to left.

“He missed a slider right there in the middle, I was ready to hit it and I put my best swing on it,” Suarez said.

After being acquired in a November trade with the Mariners, Suarez is entering his first season with the D-backs.

“I feel good, I feel healthy and I’m ready to go and can’t wait to put everything together at Chase Field on March 28,” he said.

Projected No. 4 starter Brandon Pfaadt, lefty reliever Kyle Nelson and catcher Tucker Barnhart are scheduled to play in the D-backs’ Triple-A game on Thursday while the big league club has a Cactus League off-day.