FORT MYERS: As Eduardo Rodriguez loosened up and threw his second bullpen session of the spring yesterday, an older, much more established left-hander watched closely.
Spring training hasn’t officially begun yet, with pitchers and catchers reporting by Thursday, but David Price already has been studying video with Rodriguez. He had seen the first bullpen session. The second was equally impressive.
The Red Sox are sure they have one ace in Price, and they’re hopeful that Rodriguez might develop into a second, even if it takes another year or two.
“He’s got a very bright future,” Price said.
How bright? Rodriguez, 22, had a 3.85 ERA and 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings in his rookie year. Back in 2009 as a 23-year-old rookie, Price had a 4.42 ERA and 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
But Price insists Rodriguez is developing faster than he did.
Watching Rodriguez throw, Price said he first noticed the “explosiveness” of his pitches.
“He already has a changeup and I feel like at such a young age that’s a huge pitch to already have in his arsenal,” Price said. “He’ll keep working with stuff, keep tinkering with stuff. He’s already sat me down two or three times. We’ve talked about pitching. I’ve watched video with him. I’m happy he wants to learn and I’ll teach him all I know.”
Both lefties throw an average fastball of about 95 mph, but Price at 23 and Rodriguez at 22 aren’t exactly a matching pair.
“He’s much further than along than I was when I was his age,” Price said. “I didn’t throw changeups then. Everything was fastball-slider. He’s trying to mix in a couple different things, give a couple different looks with a slider and a cutter. I think he’s further advanced than I was.”
Smith staring over
Price was among the first people to welcome to new reliever Carson Smith to Fort Myers.
“Nice guy,” Smith said.
Smith, 26, had a breakthrough rookie season last year — 2.31 ERA, 92 strikeouts in 70 innings — with the Mariners. He said he was in shock when he heard he was traded to the Red Sox with lefty Roenis Elias in the December deal that sent Wade Miley to Seattle.
Now the side-armed set-up man says he’s just trying to prove himself to his new coaches and teammates.
“I’m very excited,” Smith said. “Growing up in Texas I was a Rangers fan, but you always paid attention to the Yankees and Red Sox. You had to choose one. I always chose the Red Sox, so they were always my next favorite team. Having a chance to be a part of it, I’m excited.”
Betts’ sinking feeling
Mookie Betts is the early leader for having the most bizarre spring-training experience.
Betts posted a picture of a golf cart submerged in water on Twitter late Sunday night, then explained himself yesterday.
Betts said he was golfing with infielder Travis Shaw when he realized he left a club on the previous hole. Betts parked his cart on a hill, pressed the brake firmly and was certain he heard a click that would’ve secured the cart’s wheels from moving.
But when he jumped out of the cart and started walking toward the previous hole, he realized what was happening.
“By the time I turned around it was going in the pond,” he said.
The cart contained his wallet, phone, keys and clubs.
“I was doing pretty good at the time until we decided to quit for precautionary reasons,” Betts said. “That was probably one of the most helpless feelings I’ve had. There’s nothing I could do.”