It takes something pretty important to stir Carlos Rodón from his mind-clearing, post-season isolation in his suburban home. But, with all due respect to the dulcet tones of blowing wheat on the farm, setting the tone for the 2024 season was too crucial for the second-year Yankees starter to pass
There's "reporting early to spring training," and then there's what Rodón and fellow disappointing lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. did this winter, showing up to camp over a month ahead of the expected date for pitchers and catchers to arrive in order to both hone their craft and make a statement.
2024 would be different. 2024 is already different.
According to Brian Cashman, all word on Rodón coming from Tampa's camp is remarkably positive as he looks to put a very worrisome injury behind him (pardon the pun).
"“The feedback I’m getting is really good, and his arm action is good. He looks like he obviously worked his tail off. Very optimistic that Rodón can return to form (and) be the pitcher that we know he’s capable of being.”"- Brian Cashman
The regular season is what matters, of course, but it'll look familiarly bleak unless Rodón works hard to conquer his physical demons and mental hurdles. Based on what he (and Cortes) are already up to, it appears 2024 will be based on a far less sour foundation than last season.
Yankees' Carlos Rodón shows up early to camp in "great shape"
Last spring, Rodón's season was derailed nearly as soon as he arrived. Though Stuff+ still ranked his fastball highly, comparing it favorably to the one he utilized in previously dominant seasons, the results did not show and the lefty's command was largely absent. Much of his difficulty was pinned on the forearm issue he suffered in the spring, as well as the chronic back problems he developed as the year dragged on that made his windup feel unnatural.
This offseason, Rodón's focus was clearly on shedding bulk and increasing comfort in his repeatable motion, and early looks at the progress have involved vigorous head nods.
Perhaps this year is the year when Yankee fans' rabid Venmo gifts to Rodón last offseason begin to pay dividends. While Marcus Stroman is a fun addition, and Michael King's subtraction was necessary to lure one of the game's great sluggers, the Yankees' rotation is strapped for experienced depth, and the whole picture looks a lot better if Rodón receives Cy Young votes and Cortes pitches like an All-Star.
There is no ceiling to Rodón's potential contributions, and the more they can get out of him the better. Consider the first box on his seasonal checklist colored in with aplomb.