Pittsburgh Pirates lefty starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez missed an extremely large amount of time in 2013 due to pain in his left forearm. It was an awkward injury to deal with from his perspective and from a fan’s perspective, because no one really seemed to know what was going on. He would get to the point where he would be ready to start a rehab assignment, the fans would get excited, and then he would be shut down again following a brief rehab assignment. Now that he appears to be on track to start the 2014 season, what can the Pirates realistically expect from Rodriguez?
First of all, realistic expectations and hope are two very different things. Realistic expectations are what one thinks are very possible — or realistic. Hope is what one thinks can happy if everything goes well and nothing goes against what is needed to have everything work out perfectly. The Pirates probably hope to have Rodriguez return to his pre-injury form and pitch more than 200 innings in 2014, but they should probably expect something around 100 innings.
Rodriguez probably won’t participate in many live games in Spring Training, if any at all. He is still working through his rehab process and has been on a throwing program lately. Hewas cleared to test his arm back in December, and to his relief, he didn’t feel any pain. He admitted there was anxiety prior to testing out his arm, but that is to be expected from a player that missed around 75 percent of the season prior.
It was reported last year that Rodriguez has some type of arthritis in his left elbow. I’m no doctor, but arthritis can cause some serious pain and discomfort, and it doesn’t seem to be a thing that just goes away. If the reports about Rodriguez being diagnosed with an arthritic elbow are true, that certainly doesn’t bode well for him pitching a full season.
Until he proves otherwise, I don’t see any reason for the Pirates to realistically expect anything more than 75 to 100 good innings from Rodriguez. The Pirates are lucky to have such great organizational starting pitching depth — most notably in the form of top prospect Jameson Taillon.