Carlos Rodon has ‘some stuff to prove’ after brutal Yankees start

Carlos Rodon has ‘some stuff to prove’ after brutal Yankees start

TAMPA — Carlos Rodon knows he needs to be better in his second year as a Yankee.

On the eve of spring training, the left-hander looks the part, too. And while that doesn’t guarantee much about staying healthy or pitching better, it’s a good place to start.

Rodon didn’t pull out the “best-shape-of-my-life” cliche that is as much a rite of spring training as pitchers’ fielding practice, and he didn’t put a number on how much weight he lost either.

But he looked to be in better shape than the last time he took the mound last season and sounded ready to put a brutal first year with the Yankees behind him.

“I just feel like I got some stuff to prove and I want to stay on the field a lot longer than I did last year,” Rodon said Monday morning before throwing a bullpen session at the Yankees’ player development complex, two days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. 

Rodon said he reported to Tampa on Jan. 6 or 7 and is already far along in his throwing progression.

He is scheduled to throw a fourth live bullpen session on Wednesday, getting a head start on his preparation for 2024 following an injury-riddled 2023.


Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon speaking to the media before entering the New York Yankees Minor League complex in Tampa on Monday. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

After signing a six-year, $162 million contract with the Yankees in December of 2022, this marked Rodon’s first full offseason as a member of the organization, which he said was “a lot different.”

“When they invest a lot of money in you, they definitely invest a lot of time and contact with you,” he said. “So it was good. We had a good plan. Started throwing pretty early. Started moving in the weight room pretty early. A lot earlier than normal. So I’ve been throwing a lot, just trying to stay ready.”

Rodon said he had “no idea” how much weight he lost over the offseason, but said it was more about having a different body composition.


Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon reacts after giving up two runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

He joked he got there by chasing around his three kids, and later quipped he only looked slimmer because he ditched his mustache that “had some bad juju in it.”

Regardless, it was clear that something needed to change after Rodon’s miserable first season in pinstripes.

It was marred by injuries and then underperformance when he was active. He suffered a forearm muscle strain last March, then dealt with back issues during his rehab from that.

He finally made his debut in July, and around another injured list stint in August for a strained hamstring, he pitched to a 6.85 ERA across 14 starts and 64 ⅓ innings.

Rodon’s season finale against the Royals in Kansas City blew up on him as he allowed eight runs without recording an out and also turned his back on pitching coach Matt Blake during a mound visit.

“I know I’ve got to be better,” Rodon said when asked about outside criticisms. “Listen, I’ll be transparent with you. All of us are human. We hear everything. Now whether that eats at you, or do you actually listen and dive into it, that’s a person-by-person basis. But you’re eventually going to crack an egg when you hear it a thousand times. I know I’m being transparent and honest: It is hard, but as a New York Yankee that is our job to keep that shell tough. Good thing it was the end of the year and I got to move on and forget about baseball and come back refreshed and let’s start at it again.”

If Rodon can rediscover the healthy, dominant formula that led to him posting a 2.67 ERA with 422 strikeouts across 310 ⅔ innings between 2021 and 2022, it will go a long way in elevating the Yankees’ rotation behind Gerrit Cole. 

They were unable to land Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason and did not want to pay the steep free-agent price for someone like Blake Snell, only upping the pressure on Rodon to pitch like he is capable of this season.

“I wouldn’t be here this early — or have gotten here this early if I didn’t think [I could get back to that 2021-2022 form],” Rodon said. “So yeah, just really committed. After last year, obviously the rough showing. The first year in the Yankees uniform obviously wasn’t my best. I’d like to make it up, that’s for sure.”

 

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