Carlos Rodon apologizes after pitching coach warns of his ‘undoing’

Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon turns his back on his pitching coach Matt Blake in Kansas City on Sept. 29, 2023.
John Allen
Sunday October 1, 2023

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A day after turning his back on the Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake, Carlos Rodon extended an apology to him. This act of contrition came after the visibly frustrated southpaw had, during a first-inning mound visit, briefly turned his back to Blake at Kauffman Stadium. Blake was also sharp in his reaction and warned that such emotions could be his undoing.

“It’s not ideal,” the pitching coach said. “I was a little disappointed in the moment, how it’s being handled. But anytime you go out into the arena like that, emotions are running high, especially with him at times. It’s what makes him great. It also can be his undoing.”

During the disheartening 12-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals, Carlos Rodon faced a nightmarish inning where he allowed all eight batters he confronted to not only reach base but also cross the plate. This dismal performance prompted pitching coach Matt Blake to emerge from the dugout, aiming to help Carlos Rodon regain his composure.

The mound visit unfolded after Carlos Rodon had conceded a hit to Nick Loftin, marking the sixth batter of the inning. An exchange of words occurred between the two, but Carlos Rodon then abruptly turned his back on Blake, signaling for him to retreat to the dugout, even though the coach was still in mid-sentence.

Carlos Rodon openly acknowledged that he was “not in the right frame of mind” when he made the gesture of turning away from his pitching coach.

This incident followed a couple of prior incidents that raised eyebrows. The first instance involved Carlos Rodon blowing a kiss to taunt a fan at Angel Stadium in July as he walked off the mound after a challenging second inning during a July 19 game in which he trailed 4-0. Then, in his final start of the season on Friday night, Carlos Rodon made headlines by again turning his back on pitching coach Matt Blake, a mere six batters into the game.

Aaron Boone expresses concern at Carlos Rodon’s antics

Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon reacts after his disastrous performance against the Royals in Kansas City on Sept. 29, 2023.
AP

Following the tumultuous conclusion of Carlos Rodon’s debut season with the Yankees, he engaged in a substantial closed-door discussion with manager Aaron Boone. This meeting marked the end of a challenging campaign for Carlos Rodon, who had inked a significant six-year, $162 million deal in December. Throughout his first season in pinstripes, the 30-year-old southpaw mustered a record of 3-8, coupled with an unsavory 6.85 ERA in a total of 14 starts.

Boone commented on the situation, expressing their desire to avoid such incidents. He mentioned that although things can happen in the heat of competition, they had already discussed and addressed the matter.

Boone acknowledged that had Carlos Rodon’s incident taken place at an earlier juncture in the season, he might have entertained the possibility of taking disciplinary action against the pitcher. However, given that the Yankees were on the cusp of Game 161, Boone indicated that he “possibly” would have responded differently if the timing had been distinct.

This year, on two separate occasions, Carlos Rodon’s fiery disposition has erupted into confrontations on the field during his starts, each episode leaving its mark.

Boone acknowledged that the individual in question had experienced a challenging year. He stated that the incident that occurred was unacceptable, and they were committed to addressing it appropriately. However, Boone emphasized that they believed they were in a good position and that there were no malicious intentions on Carlos Rondon’s part.

Blake warns Carlos Rodon

Blake revealed that he had been unable to establish contact with Carlos Rodon immediately following Friday night’s game. However, the two engaged in an extensive conversation during the early hours of Saturday.

The Yankees pitching coach mentioned that the individual had been in the league for quite some time. He expressed their desire for the pitcher to continue having success and to conduct themselves in a proper manner. Blake also noted that this particular incident was one they would reflect on and wish they could have handled differently.

It wasn’t solely Carlos Rodon’s demeanor that raised alarms; his fastball, which typically averaged 95.3 mph over the season, clocked in at an average of 93.6 mph during this particular outing. The Royals capitalized on this drop in velocity, effectively making contact with nearly every pitch that ventured into the strike zone.

Carlos Rodon turns livid in the dugout after Yankees' defensive meltdown vs. the Rays on Aug 27, 2023.

Blake mentioned that the previous night’s performance had been somewhat unexpected. He expressed the belief that the drop in velocity wasn’t due to an injury. The pitching coach noted that sometimes the player settles into the flow of the game, but that didn’t happen for him last night. Blake stated that they would continue to investigate the matter.

“He’s been in the league for a while. We want him to go out and have a lot of success and behave in the right ways,” Blake said, “and you know, this is one were going to look back on and wish we had back.”

“Last night was a little surprising. Sometimes he settles into the flow of the game and he didn’t get to that point last night. It’s something we will continue to look into.”

Blake acknowledged that the situation was less than ideal. He expressed some disappointment regarding how it was being managed at that moment. He noted that when someone competes in a high-stakes environment like that, emotions tend to run high, especially for the individual in question. He also mentioned that these emotional aspects were what made the person great but could also lead to difficulties.

In the aftermath of Friday’s game, Carlos Rodon expressed his intention to extend an apology to Blake. During their conversation, Blake noted that the Yankees starter appeared genuinely “remorseful” for his actions.

The pitching coach stated that the situation was not in line with their expectations or how they would prefer it to be handled. However, he acknowledged that the behavior stemmed from the player’s frustration with himself and the circumstances they were currently facing.

Carlos Rodon’s introduction to the Yankees‘ roster was delayed until July 7, primarily due to ongoing back problems. Additionally, he experienced an absence in August, attributed to a strained left hamstring.

Its taking a toll on the pitcher

carlos-rodon-new-york-yankees
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Blake expressed his opinion that the player didn’t seem to gain enough momentum to perform at his best, and they would need to further investigate this matter. He noted that with a full year of experience, they now had a better understanding of the kind of feedback the player required. The pitching coach mentioned that the upcoming offseason provided them with an opportunity to address and improve certain aspects of his performance.

With just 35 pitches under his belt from Friday’s outing, Carlos Rodon stepped forward, offering his services to take the mound once more if the Yankees found themselves in need during the remaining two games. However, he expressed his anticipation for the conclusion of the 2023 season, a campaign he would prefer to consign to the past.

Carlos Rodon expressed his desire to take some time for himself and step away from baseball. He mentioned that, when the timing was appropriate, he planned to resume training and concentrate on his pitching goals, with this likely occurring a few weeks later.

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