SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter is using all left-handed pitchers for Team 2 in today’s intrasquad game. That includes minor leaguer Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be called upon at some point behind starter Mark Hendrickson.
And to think, Rodriguez might have been pitching for Team 1 if he hadn’t fallen down as a kid.
Rodriguez was 8 years old when he lost his footing while getting on a bus in Valencia, Venezuela. He landed on his right arm, the one he used to throw a baseball, and the course of his professional life would go in another direction.
To the left.
“I was playing with my brother, and then we got on a bus and I fell and hit my elbow,” Rodriguez, 19, said through his interpreter for the day, teammate Miguel Gonzalez. “The doctor told me I couldn’t throw anymore with my right hand because if I did, it was going to break.”
The story grows more interesting when you consider that Rodriguez is widely regarded as the Orioles’ third-best pitching prospect behind Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, both former first-round picks in the First-Year Player Draft.
“I was rehabbing for a like a year, a year and a half with my right hand, and I started throwing with my left and I kept throwing,” Rodriguez said. “Now I’m pitching here in big league camp. That’s just the way I learned. I had to learn somehow. I wanted to play baseball.”
Rodriguez won’t become an ambidextrous pitcher. He’s prohibited from throwing with his right arm.
“I can’t,” he said. “If I do, they would have to do surgery. The doctor told me I can’t throw at all with my right hand.”
Gonzalez has become a mentor of sorts to Rodriguez - and a very good interpreter, too.
“He’s not afraid to talk,” Gonzalez said. “He likes to ask questions. He’s active all the time and he’s young, obviously. He’s 19 and he has a lot of energy.”
It’s no coincidence that the Orioles placed Gonzalez’s locker between Rodriguez and Gausman.
“Having Gausman and him by my side, that means Buck or whoever put me here and wanted me to talk to them and give them advice,” Gonzalez said. “I think that’s just coming from, even though I haven’t been around the big leagues a lot, I have a lot of experience from Mexico and the minors. I think that’s why they put them right here, so they can talk to me and ask me questions. When I was coming up, I had guys give me advice. It’s always helpful.”
Note: Minor league pitcher Jonatan Isenia has made the Netherlands WBC team. He pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2012.