Wandy Rodriguez is now making steady progress.
According to beat writer Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the left-hander threw fastballs and changeups in a successful 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday at Colorado’s Coors Field. “No problems,” Rodriguez told reporters after the short workout.
Rodriguez will throw another bullpen session — his third — on Wednesday in St. Louis and could then be cleared to face live hitters. “It won’t be finalized until we know how he feels tomorrow from throwing today, that’s what we kind of laid out as the plan moving forward,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since June 5 because of left elbow and forearm tightness. He tried starting a minor league rehab assignment on June 24 but felt renewed discomfort in his throwing arm almost immediately and was shut down. The hope is that he can avoid setbacks this time around.
Pittsburgh entered play Sunday with a four-game lead over St. Louis in the National League Central.
Rodriguez had a 3.59 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 46/12 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings before hitting the shelf.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.