Even while having to live in an major league existence/parking lot of tricked-out cars (see Yoan Moncada’s glow-in-the-dark BMW I8
), Eduardo Rodriguez drives a Toyota 4Runner, and makes no apologies for it.
“I know those kind of guys. They just buy the car. They don’t care what kind of car they got,” said Rodriguez, who just got his driver’s license last year. “They just buy the car and take it to that guy and the guy pulls out a Lamborghini. But I’m not that kind of guy. I just buy a car to drive in, especially with my wife and kids.”
But that doesn’t mean Rodriguez is adverse to mirroring. And there’s one person in particular that he’s all in on emulating this spring training — David Price.
“Having him here, for me, it’s going to be pretty good because he can teach me how to pitch because he’s a lefty and we have almost the same mechanics,” said Rodriguez, who was one of the first pitchers to arrive at JetBlue Park, last week. “We throw the same, 94-97 [mph]. So it’s going to be pretty good for me having him here in spring training. If they put him in the same group with him it’s going to be way better for me because he can teach me everything. Whenever we do something, he can teach me how to control the game. For me? It’s going to be great.
“Two years ago I got Johan Santana in Baltimore and he taught me a lot, and that’s why I got in the big leagues last year and did pretty good. He taught me how to do this, this and this. So now I have him here and he can teach me with every start how to get better.”
The alteration in the 23-year-old’s existence, compared to a year ago, is striking.
Last spring training, Rodriguez’s first in a major league camp, he was pushed down to the far right end of the pitchers side of the clubhouse, lumped in with non-roster hurlers, or minor leaguers that were just happy to be there.
Now there will be far different approaches, and expectations.
“Last year was a hard year because I was a rookie. But after I got 10 starts, I felt that I had it and felt like I could stay here for years,” he explained. “This year it’s just been about getting ready for the season because I know how the games are now. I know how everything is. I’ve been watching a lot of videos of how I pitch, how other guys are pitching, and hitters.
“Last year I just came here and tried to learn how everybody is doing everything. I just went around the fields thinking, ‘Oh, this is how the big league guys do it.’ Now I’m just thinking how to pitch to those guys.”