Cubs’ Manuel Rodriguez endured arm troubles, MLB shutdown
The Chicago Cubs’ Manuel Rodriguez end an arm strain and MLB shutdown. Still, they view him as a ‘reckoning’ in the bullpen
The Chicago Cubs’ Manuel Rodriguez stayed at camp to rehab the arm injured March 1–11 days before the MLB shut down over the coronavirus –and it takes an untrained eye not to see his potential. He was throwing 99+ MPH before a Grade 2 biceps strain.
He has yet to pitch above Class A, and his injury signals caution for Rodriguez. Mark Prior was supposed to be ‘uninjurable.’ He got injured. It just goes to show everyone can get hurt. Even Prior. But 99 MPH? He deserves a chance.
"“He’s one of those guys that’s matured, and the time in Mexico helped him prepare for the big stage,” Louie Eljaua, the Cubs director of international operations, said before the shutdown. “And pitching in front of a lot of fans in pressure situations. He’s one of those guys who can sneak up on a lot of people. h/t Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune"
He’s had three years in the Mexican League, but none above Class A. He could move through the system quickly if he masters control and health. Honus on the health. A Grade 2 sprain is tricky to manage. It causes moderate tearing with a loss of mobility or strength. So how long will he be without it? Maybe temporarily. Possibly permanently. But 99 MPH minus a couple of miles an hour? Hot diggity.
He found success with his late-season push. He had a 1.96 ERA with 33 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP in 23 innings–enough to make him part of the 40-man roster in November. Sergio Hernadez, Cubs scouting director who covers Mexico, wanted to sign him after the 2015 season. The Yucatan Lions held on to him, but he signed in 2016.
"“We see the age and that he (last) played in Myrtle Beach,” Cubs manager David Ross said in late February. “But this guy has closed out games in the (Mexican League). He has more of a veteran presence. He’s been around veteran pitchers."
He’s talented, even with the Grade 2 sprain–hence why he got added to the 40-man. But the shutdown completely wiped out a chance for a 2020 debut–for now. He was wild, walking 36 in 40 1/3 at Class A South Bend in 2018. He needs to harness that and be what they need him to be.