Carlos Rodón made it clear during his introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium that he understood exactly what he was getting himself into. He even went as far as to joke about the crowd booing his infant children if they were to make a mistake on the big stage. He got it. He was ready.
Then came the injuries, sapping Rodón of his first three months of the 2023 campaign. A slight elbow strain came first in spring training, putting him on the shelf and allowing a lingering back issue to develop. That problem was quite a bit more serious; Rodón didn't feel pain, but felt off for several consecutive bullpen sessions. It was deemed a "chronic" back problem, and the most pessimistic among us immediately assumed he'd never play -- or, at least, be himself -- again.
So far, Rodón has flashed his trademark heat through three big-league starts, but his location has been far off during his most recent pair of outings, an issue that persisted during his rehabilitation bullpen sessions.
The time away from the diamond has appeared to make the lefty hotter under the collar than he was during his calm, cool and collected intro presser, too.
Rodón has always run hot on the mound, and can often be heard barking to himself after failures or spikes sliders. Unfortunately, he barked to some other people on Wednesday, blowing a kiss to some harassing Yankee fans behind the dugout after completing his second inning of work.
Carlos Rodón blows kiss to Yankees fans (hecklers)
There are five-plus years on Rodón's Yankees contract, with plenty of opportunities remaining for him to channel his fiery attitude for good. He opened Wednesday's game by buzzing Shohei Ohtani inside, something his moundmates were clearly afraid to do in Games 1 and 2 of this series. That was very good.
But he'd better be careful. His contributions have been limited so far this season, and the last thing he wants is for his partial season to be defined by off-field scuffles as well as on-field issues. You can't let Yankee fans get under your skin, even if they deserve to be told off with a kiss.