What’s wrong with R.J. Rodriguez?

Before a single pitch was thrown in the regular season, York manager Andy Etchebarren anointed R.J. Rodriguez the closer. He earned it with the way he pitched last season, Etchebarren reasoned.
But now, everything seems up in the air.
About a week ago, Rodriguez needed 23 pitches to survive the ninth inning, and he threw only eight strikes. Etchebarren announced a few days later that Rodriguez had lost the ninth-inning job. And even though Rodriguez came in and earned saves Friday and Saturday, Etchebarren did not budge. Rodriguez had not won back the job, it simply worked out so that Rodriguez came in during the ninth inning.
He was upset about pitch selection Saturday night — when the Revs won. He didn’t understand some of the pitch selection that allowed the winning run to come to the plate. And he was upset again after Rodriguez’s first blown save of the season Sunday — questioning pitch again.

Rodriguez admitted Friday, this spring has been difficult.
A former Pirates prospect, it’s his first full season in independent baseball. Meaning he didn’t report to a training camp in February preparing for the season. He’s not alone. During spring camp, Sean Stidfole didn’t look like himself. I expected him to comment that he was slow bouncing back after appearing in 68 games last season. He had no issue with last year’s workload, but he did note that he struggled to adjust to a spring without weeks of camp.
The good news is nothing appears to be wrong with Rodriguez’s arm. The problem has been pitch selection.
I’ve heard Etchebarren talk about pitch selection dating back to his first day on the job in August 2009. And the burden of selection falls on the pitcher. The catcher might call the pitch, but the pitcher always has the option to shake off the catcher. Long Island rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth Sunday against Rodriguez.
“I got a sinkerball pitcher on the mound, and we try to strike two guys out with high fastballs,” Etchebarren said Sunday. “One hits a double, and one hits a homer. Stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Etchebarren’s reaction may seem harsh, but pitch selection was something he was upset about Saturday night as well — when Rodriguez worked out of a bases-loaded jam with one out. Rodriguez walked Matt Padgett on a 3-1 pitch to load the bases, bringing the winning run to the plate.

About Jim Seip

Jim Seip wore a cookie monster costume to help close out the Spectrum on Oct. 31, 2009.
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3 Responses to What’s wrong with R.J. Rodriguez?

  1. Larry Shaffer says:

    What is wrong with R.J.?? I got BETTER question! How come when a player does not do his job, he is threatened to be released or demoted?? BUT yet when Mr. Etch does not do his job, it’s all ok or someone else is to blame! HEY ETCH, I seen you wave to put the batter on in the 9th after R.J. fell behind him. Unwritten rule, Never walk the go ahead run! OR THAT R.J.’s fault?? YOU even notice the undeck batter had already homeered once that game? Ya Navarrete was in a 1 for 30 slump, but he was showing signs of breaking out of it! IT is not like he a rookie with no track record! ANY ONE knew he can hit, just a matter of time and Home Run #1 should have told Etch he seeing ball a lot better that day!
    Then Etch says the starters are not going long enough in games, causing the bull pen to wear out! HELLO!!!!!!!! Last week, Corety Thurman threw 85 pitches in 5 innings. Ya the 3rd was not good, BUT! DID ANYONE NOTICE ETCH HAD A RIGHT FIELDER PLAYING CENTER AND A CENTER FIELDER PLAYING RIGHT!!! Well Mr. Etch, I think there was 2 balls that were hit in that 3rd inning that Walker may have had or at least got one of them if he was in Center. He gets one, they score 2 runs not 5!!!! SO the starters get the blame for that??? WOW!! Then Matt DeSalvo is pulled after about 90 pitches on a day he had it GOING! So maybe the TOP Brass should start threaening Mr. Etch when he does not do HIS JOB!!!
    AND PUT it in the press so we all can read it, like Etch does to belittle his players!
    Quick Question…How many of you would work for a person that threatens your job every time you make a mistake?? THEN tell the whole company you not producking! JUST WONDERING!!!

  2. Jim Seip says:

    Larry, thanks for the comment.
    The blog post was intended to show that nothing was physically wrong with R.J., but Etchebarren did not like his pitch selection. That’s why he lost the closer’s role, according to Etch.
    I can understand if you or the players don’t like the way Etch may explain problems with the team. Perhaps you would like a manager to handle it behind closed doors or not say anything at all — and just release a player without warning. Does he belittle or hold players accountable? Perhaps he is attempting to motivate or push players. Obviously he believes they can perform at a higher level.
    But Etchebarren did manage to push a club to win a league championship last year. The last time a York club did so happened in 1925 — I believe. (The ’69 York Pirates were awarded the Eastern League title when playoff games continued to be rained out.) The Revs are 1 1/2 games out of first place. Just wondering what part of his job isn’t being handled correctly?

  3. Larry says:

    Thanks for the comments back! IT nice to talk to someone very intenigent!
    I was a teen back in 69 and use to jump the fence to see the games in the old stadium. WHAT talent they had. Bruce DelCanton, Gene Garber, Gene Clines. Angel Manqual won the triple crown that year.
    Etch is not doing anything wrong, I had sent a long response back but it failed! LOL He just showed motivate in the Office not in the Press! DOES your boss tear you down and threten you in from off all the other reporters? Etch wanted a curve, sure he could have called for one. WHY did he walk the batter before?? Second guessing is a fun part of this game we love! R.J. had just blown 2 right by Nav. He is a power pitcher, one that strike out people not plays with them!
    What is the difference between a ball hit very hard right at that short stop and they turn a double play or a ball that inches it’s way past everyone diving for it??
    IS that LUCK?? SKILL?? depends on what side your for. AM I RIGHT? Etch does a great job putting a tean on the field and coaching, but why not do the motivating where it does the most good. BEHIND close doors in his office!

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