Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Henry Rodriguez still isn’t healthy?


Be prepared for another dubious DL trip for Rodriguez. Photo Keith Allison via wiki/flickr

Sometimes its the smallest of items that catch your eye.   In Washington Times’ beat reporter Amanda Comak‘s 2/12/13 spring training report, she posted this little snippet:

Right-hander Henry Rodriguez, who had a bone spur and a chip removed from his throwing elbow last August, arrived in camp on Tuesday. Rodriguez has been rehabbing all winter and he said that while he feels good to this point, his rehab is not finished. It will be interesting to see just how much he’s able to do during spring training.

Rodriguez’s rehab isn’t finished?  We’re 6 weeks away from Opening Day.  He had this surgery in August, nearly 7 months ago.  It was characterized as a “clean-up” surgery, not a “repair” surgery.  What is going on?

The team already has too many right handed relievers for spots.  Rodriguez has zero options, so he’s either on the 25-man roster, on the DL or out the door via waivers (and you know someone would pick him up; there’s a lot of really bad teams with thin bullpens out there right now).

Be prepared for another 2011-esque situation where the team stashes him on the DL out of spring training so as to give him yet another lifeline on this team.  This topic came up recently in the comments, so for reference purposes he was put on the 15-day DL trip on 3/28/11, and I posted about this topic twice in March of 2011, on 3/23/11 when he got “shelved” to work on his mechanics and then again on 3/28/11 when his official DL-trip reason was “neck spasms,” despite not one single report of any neck issues the entirety of the spring.

I’ve made no secret of my frustrations with Rodriguez, both in his up-and-down performance and in the method of his acquisition.  This little snippet of news gave me yet another reason to potentially be frustrated with him.

However, this future DL trip may open up an opportunity for one of the handful of left handed relievers the team has signed on minor league deals with spring training invites.  It seems almost reminiscent of Jim Bowden‘s 2008 pitching staff cattle calls, the lengths to which the team has pursued possibly LOOGY’s this off-season.  I see no other reason for all these signings (just off the top of my head, Bill Bray, Fernando Abad, Bobby Bramhall, Brandon Mann, Sean West and Will Ohman) unless the team really wants to break camp with a second left-handed reliever.  A second left-handed reliever means only 5 right-handed relievers, and those spots seem to be taken at the moment by Soriano, Storen, Clippard, Stammen and Mattheus barring injury.

11 Responses to 'Henry Rodriguez still isn’t healthy?'

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  1. And here I thought it was just me!!! I was seriously disappointed to see that Henry was still on the roster considering the wealth of relievers the team has who can not only hit the 90’s…but also the strike zone! At the same time! I take solace in the fact that Wang is finally gone.


    14 Feb 13 at 8:19 pm

  2. Agree with everything here.
    HRod is the ultimate tease.

    Mark L

    15 Feb 13 at 7:22 am

  3. No reason to get rid of the guy until you have to … Maybe the plan is to give Rodriguez one more shot (either on April 1 or whenever he’s ready to come off the DL if/when he goes there) and see what happens. By all accounts he looked great last spring, and then got hurt, so you can’t really hold that against him.

    Todd Boss

    15 Feb 13 at 10:29 am

  4. He looked great last spring, and also for the first month of the season. Up until mid-May, he was lights out (16G, 1-2 with 8 saves, 14 2/3 IP, 7H, 7BB, 21K, 5R, 4ER, 2.45 ERA). Then the grand slam to Votto, and it all went horribly, horribly wrong. Whether that was his elbow or his head I don’t know, but Davey really likes him. Today when he was talking about Soriano, he mentioned his “three other closers” and also referred to HRod, Storen and Clippard by name.

    John C.

    15 Feb 13 at 10:54 am

  5. But did he really get hurt last spring? Here’s the difference, from my perspective; Henry does well, then he has a bad game and suddenly he’s on the DL for, like, ever, and he doesn’t appear to be the least bit enthused about getting back into the mix. This compared to Wilson Ramos who was HURT, required major surgery, appeared in the dugout toward the end of the season and is now proclaiming how great it is to be back, he wants to be the starting catcher on opening day and so on. Or Werth who trashed his wrist but got what needed to be done immediately, worked like a madman and was back on the field as soon as possible and making a difference, even at less than 100%. Sure, for what Werth gets paid you could make a case that he should have played with that broken wrist but Ramos doesn’t get paid anything like that and he’s still Mr Enthusiasm. So where’s Henry? He didn’t require anything like what Ramos and Werth needed, hence my thinking that Henry’s biggest problem is Henry. I Understand that you shouldn’t get rid of the guy until you have to but what day does Henry inspire confidence as he walks onto the field? No, not even…when does Henry not make me cringe and reach for the remote when he takes the field? If the answer is “Beats me” then I certainly hope he isn’t hanging around and sucking up the oxygen like Wang did!

    I hear The Chief is getting back into the mix… 😉


    15 Feb 13 at 11:19 am

  6. Perhaps Rodriguez actually suffered bone chips in his ego, as opposed to his elbow, in mid-may. Either way, there’s absolutely a logjam in the bullpen now, and he’ll have earned his spot on the team. What worries me is if the team decides to dump Stammen (unlikely) or Mattheus (more likely) to AAA in order to keep Rodriguez around for one more shot. If you can look at me with a straight face and say that you’ve picked your 7 best relievers and that’s who you break camp with, then great. Certainly Davey Johnson seems to have taken this path by virtue of dumping Lannan to AAA last year.

    I dunno; the promise of the fantastic Rodriguez is awfully alluring. And if he’s fantastic this spring, he’ll be on the team.

    Todd Boss

    15 Feb 13 at 2:34 pm

  7. I think that last bit is the reason that you see Davey and Rizzo continually tout him. When HRod is throwing his slider and change up for strikes, and admittedly those times have only been few and far between, he is unhittable. That term is overused in baseball, but it fits HRod. Mattheus is good, but at his best, good to really good hitters will beat him when they are also at their best. That probably isn’t true with HRod. At his best, be probably beats all but the elite batters. of course, how often will he be at his best? that is the $64,000 question, but I think there is no chance HRod is let go this spring. DL maybe, bullpen most likely. I don’t think that he needs to be fantastic, just not abysmal. I mean, we are talking about the seventh or eighth spot in the bullpen, and I think they’ll have no problem taking another chance on the high upside guy who they hope gets it figured out.

    Btw, I’d respectfully submit that command of his off speed pitches is more important to his success than FB command. If a batter knows that he can’t get those over, they just sit dead-red fastball and wait for one to be over the plate. That makes him hittable, even at 100 mph. But his slider and CH are devastating, and if he drops those in for strikes, the batter has just a microsecond to figure out what is coming, and to make adjustments to squarely hit a plus pitch. That is a really unfair task for a batter.

    I don’t think that HRod ever figures it out consistently, but his stuff is superior to anyone else in our ‘pen, and most pens in the league, for that matter, and that is why he’ll continue to get chances for the next 5 years (here is elsewhere). He isn’t just a big FB guy.


    15 Feb 13 at 4:29 pm

  8. I wasn’t paying close attention this year, did Henry play any winter ball and, if so, how did he do?


    15 Feb 13 at 10:02 pm

  9. He did not play Winter ball, spent the whole time recovering from surgery. Hence he’s got some “tenderness” and “forearm stiffness” early in camp since he hasnt’ thrown since August.

    Todd Boss

    16 Feb 13 at 10:16 am

  10. And apparently, according to a Zuckerman tweet, Henry airmailed his first pickoff attempt into CF!

    We might need to keep him around just for comic relief. I mean, the team is too boringly good right now.


    16 Feb 13 at 1:05 pm

  11. Par for the course. 🙂 I have a funny feeling Nats fans are going to have plenty to worry about this year. We didn’t have any time lost to rotation injuries last year; that can’t continue. The Braves (if you believe in the “potential” of the Upton brothers) may be decently improved. The Phillies could actually get all their old, aging, injured stars together for one run. This is going to be an interesting NL East race this year.

    Todd Boss

    18 Feb 13 at 9:21 am

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