When Carlos Rodon’s velocity was slightly down in his first exhibition start as a Yankee, the concern was seemingly non-existent, a mere shrug of the shoulders for it being early in the process of building his arm.
By Thursday there were actual concerns as the Yankees announced Rodon will begin the first year of a six-year, $162 million deal on the injured list due to a strained forearm. Rodon experienced the same issue last May with the Giants and did not skip a turn but at this point the Yankees are going cautious with their second-biggest expenditure behind Aaron Judge’s new contract.
“You don’t ever want to downplay anything, but it’s going to cost him some time,” GM Brian Cashman said to reporters in Tampa on Thursday. “He’s worth the wait. All we want honestly is the real deal when he’s capable of providing it.”
While an injury that is believed to cost Rodon only a month may not be concerning on the surface, he does have a history of arm injuries. It is certainly possible this could morph into something worse but there were no indications of injury when his velocity hovered between 91 and 94 earlier this week.
“That was not a red flag for us,” Cashman told reporters. “But now when you packed it all together and the recovery wasn’t there and now the image shows this strain it all adds up.”
The last two years proved Rodon could stay healthy, a significant reason for his newfound contract along with his average velocity of 95.5 mph.
“I’m not here to pitch until the All-Star break,” Rodon told reporters. “I’m here to pitch well into October and whenever this team needs me, if it’s Oct. 5 or the ALDS, I’m taking the ball and going to pitch.”
Rodon’s absence for at least a month puts the spotlight on the competition between Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt who are vying for the fifth starter job. Now it appears both will be in the rotation for however long it takes Rodon to fully recover.
“Some of these things take time,” Rodon told reporters. “As you know, some of these things take time. I’m hoping it goes by quick but you never know what happens down the road.”
And if down the road is longer than a month, perhaps then the Yankees should be concerned. After the standard no throwing for 10 days, the hope is Rodon back to the typical recovery but until it actually happens, there will be some anxious moments.
Rodon’s sudden injury is the latest in a line of nagging injuries, including the shoulder surgery for Frankie Montas that will keep him out until after the All-Star break. Montas said he was not 100 percent when the Yankees traded four prospects for him and Lou Trivino, who was revealed to be dealing with a mild elbow sprain.
Montas admitting he was not 100 percent led Cashman to go on the defensive and express a belief Montas was actually healthy when the trade was made after the Yankees opted to not acquire Luis Castillo, who went to the Seattle Mariners instead.
“It’s easy for him to say that now but when we got him, he said he felt great, he felt 100 percent,” Cashman told reporters. “I feel like he was genuine and sincere.”
Meanwhile others are optimistic about the sudden Rodon news.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term thing,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters.
Boone’s belief has been uttered many times by managers and coaches throughout all sports at various points. Now the Yankees are hoping Boone’s optimism proves correct while also hoping a top-line starter’s absence does not contribute to a slow start, similar to the mediocrity the Yankees displayed until about early July in their tedious 2021 season.
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