SAN FRANCISCO -- There are some promotional posters around Oracle Park that feature four players standing in a row: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford ... and Dereck Rodriguez.
The youngest member of that group is no longer in the big leagues.
The Giants on Saturday optioned Rodriguez back to Triple-A, where he will try to find the command of a four-pitch repertoire that made him a breakout star a year ago. Rodriguez has a 5.05 ERA through eight starts and has allowed 18 runs in his last three appearances, including four unearned ones on Friday.
Rodriguez said he was not fully surprised to be called into Bruce Bochy's office.
"Honestly, not really, not really, the way this was going," he said. "I had three pretty tough outings. It caught me by surprise this soon but it's fine, it's part of the game. I'm not the first or the last one to have that happen. Now I've got to go back down there and keep my head up and throw strikes."
Rodriguez walked four batters in each of his final three starts and has 17 in 41 innings overall. He said the issue is not mechanical, but mental. Rodriguez felt he was nibbling too much and consistently falling behind in counts, and he hoped a stint in Triple-A could fix that as he deals with less pressure.
Rodriguez's velocity is down a touch from last year but otherwise there is little in his profile that shows serious regression. The Giants simply want to get him back to commanding his pitches in the zone.
"He got in a little rut there," Bochy said. "He'll be back."
Bochy wouldn't immediately name the rotation beyond Sunday, and the Giants are down two members -- Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz -- of their Opening Day rotation. But Pomeranz threw off a mound Saturday and could return next weekend. Tyler Beede seems a strong bet to start one of the two games against the Blue Jays during the week.
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With two off days coming, the Giants can get creative. Rodriguez was one of the few players with options remaining and the Giants used one.
"This is probably the biggest challenge I've gotten in my career so far," he said. "You're up here a year and now you're going back down to Triple-A. But I'll keep my head down and do what's made me successful when I've been up here."