HOUSTON — Chris Rodriguez is officially out for the rest of this season, but the discussion has not begun about what he’ll do next season.
Rodriguez burst onto the scene as a successful reliever, then returned from a shoulder injury to pitch well in two starts, before a lat strain shut him down in August.
Manager Joe Maddon said Saturday that the Angels have decided there was no more time to try to get him back this season.
“I just think once we arrived at this point, the guys determined that it’d be best not to push him back and just let it heal and have him feel great next year,” Maddon said.
Assuming Rodriguez heals well over the winter and reports healthy to spring training, the Angels will have a decision to make about how to use him.
“He really can do either,” Maddon said. “I think when you’re that young, normally, organizationally speaking you like to see if somebody can start first before you relegate him to the bullpen.”
Rodriguez, 23, was a surprise inclusion in the Angels Opening Day bullpen, even though he had barely pitched over the previous three seasons, dealing with a back injury for two and the minor-league season being lost to the pandemic for the third.
Still, he posted a 2.30 ERA as a reliever in eight games before missing a month with a shoulder injury. He gave up four runs in four innings in his next five games, and the Angels then decided to send him back to the minors to get stretched out as a starter.
He returned and started twice, allowing four earned runs in 10 innings.
All told, Rodriguez posted a 3.64 ERA in 29 2/3 innings as a rookie, along the way proving to Maddon that he could be more than just a reliever.
“When I saw him in spring training, I think I told you guys I kind of saw relief pitcher,” Maddon said. “I thought it was a full effort delivery, but good stuff. And then when he had a chance to get stretched out and I saw him start a bit, then he started changing my mind. I didn’t realize how pertinent the changeup was. He’s a three-pitch pitcher.”
Maddon said the Angels have not changed their plans with Shohei Ohtani, but they will continue to check him closely after he may have suggested that he was having a physical issue.
After Ohtani was knocked out in the third inning of Friday’s game, he was asked if he was feeling any effects of the career-high 117 pitches he threw in his previous start. Ohtani said through his interpreter that there “was a little bit of soreness from my last outing.”
It is possible it was just a matter of translation, and Ohtani was actually not describing anything different than every pitcher feels, particularly late in the season.
Maddon said Saturday he had not heard anything from Ohtani or interpreter Ippei Mizuhara that would suggest there was a problem, though.
“If there is any kind of stiffness or soreness, it’s September, and the guy’s been through a lot this year,” Maddon said. “Just watching him yesterday, it was hard to guess that. Just watching him throw looked pretty normal to me. He just didn’t have that swing-and-miss stuff.
“But definitely we’ll monitor it moving forward. We haven’t had that conversation at all regarding his next start.”
Maddon said earlier in the week there had been no discussions about shutting Ohtani down.
Alex Cobb (wrist) felt good a day after his three-inning simulated game, so it’s possible he could start Wednesday or Thursday in Chicago, Maddon said. …
Dylan Bundy (shoulder) said he felt “a lot better” throwing Saturday than he did in his previous workout Wednesday. Bundy increased from 20 fastballs to throwing all his pitches in a 35-40-pitch bullpen session. He said he is expecting to throw to hitters Wednesday in Chicago. …
Packy Naughton will start Tuesday in Chicago, his first outing since shutting out the Padres over five innings in his previous outing. The Angels are undecided for the final two games of the series. …
The Angels promoted right-hander Sam Bachman to Double-A, moving up their first-round pick from the 2021 draft. Bachman had a 3.77 ERA in five starts at High-A. He had 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.
Angels (RHP Jaime Barria, 2-3, 5.16 ERA) at Astros (RHP Lance McCullers Jr., 11-4, 3.19), 11:10 a.m. Sunday, Bally Sports West, 830 AM