HOUSTON — Chris Rodriguez is officially out for the rest of this season, but discussions have not begun about what he will do next season.
Rodriguez burst onto the scene as a successful reliever, then returned to the pitch well into two starts with a shoulder injury, before a late strain shut him down in August.
Manager Joe Maddon said on Saturday that the Angels have decided there is no more time this season to try to bring him back.
“I think once we got to this point, people decided it was best not to push him back and let him recover and make him feel good next year,” Maddon said.
Assuming that Rodriguez recovers well over the winter and reports healthy for spring training, the Angels will have a decision on how to use it.
“He can really do either,” Maddon said. “I think when you’re young, in general, organizationally speaking you like to see if someone can start before you bullpen your resume.”
Rodriguez, 23, was a surprise inclusion in the Angels opening day bullpen even though he had barely pitched in the last three seasons, dealing with a back injury for two and a pandemic-losing minor-league season for the third.
Still, he posted a 2.30 ERA in eight games as a reliever before missing a month with a shoulder injury. He conceded four runs in four innings in his next five games, and then the Angels decided to send him back to the minors to take him out as a starter.
He made a comeback and started twice, getting four runs in 10 innings.
All told, Rodriguez posted a 3.64 ERA in 29 2/3 innings as a rookie, as well as proving to Madon that he could be more than just a reliever.
“When I saw him at spring training, I think I told you guys I saw a relief pitcher,” Maddon said. “I thought it was a perfect effort delivery, but good stuff. And then when he got a chance to stretch and I saw him start a bit, he started to change my mind. I didn’t know how relevant the change was.” He’s a three-pitch pitcher.”
Madon stated that the Angels have not changed their plans with Shohei Ohtani, but they will continue to examine him closely, as he may have suggested that he was having physical problems.
After Ohtani was knocked out in the third innings of Friday’s game, he was asked whether he felt any career impact on the 117 pitches he had thrown in his previous start. Ohtani said through his interpreter that “I had a slight discomfort from my last walk.”
It’s possible that it was just a matter of translation, and Ohtani wasn’t really describing anything different from what every pitcher experienced, especially late in the season.
Maddon said on Saturday he had not heard anything from Ohtani or interpreter Ippi Mizuhara to suggest there was a problem, however.
“If there’s any kind of tightness or pain, it’s September, and the man has been through a lot this year,” Maddon said. “Just looking at him yesterday, it was hard to guess. Seeing him throw was pretty normal to me. He didn’t have that swing-and-miss stuff.
“But of course we will monitor it going forward. We haven’t had any talks about his next debut at all.”
Madon said earlier this week there had been no discussion about shutting down Ohtani.
Maddon said Alex Cobb (wrist) felt well the day after his three-inning mock game, so it’s possible he could start in Chicago on Wednesday or Thursday. …
Dylan Bundy (shoulder) said he felt “much better” throwing on Saturday than his previous workout Wednesday. Bundy went from throwing 20 fastballs to all his pitches in a 35-40-pitch bullpen session. He said he looks forward to throwing the hitters in Chicago on Wednesday. …
Paci Naughton will start in Chicago on Tuesday, his first outing since dismissing the Padres in 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, advancing their first-round pick from the 2021 draft. Bachchan had a 3.77 ERA in five starts in High-A. He made 15 strike outs in 14 1/3 innings.
Angels (RHP Jaime Barria, 2-3, 5.16 ERA) Astros (RHP Lance McCullers Jr., 11-4, 3.19), 11:10 AM Sunday, Bally Sports West, 830 AM