Red Sox

Eduardo Rodriguez unveils new slider and has an unlikely pitching coach to thank -- Dustin Pedroia

Eduardo Rodriguez unveils new slider and has an unlikely pitching coach to thank -- Dustin Pedroia

BOSTON - Eduardo Rodriguez spent spring training under the watchful eye of his rotation-mates, including Cy Young Award winners Rick Porcello and David Price, as well as perennial contender Chris Sale. They spent mornings on back fields honing E-Rod's new pitch, a slider he hoped to incorporate into his repertoire as a complement to his fastball and changeup.

Sale owns the best slider in the game. Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez even got in the fun, offering pointers on how he might grip it.

"If it works, I'll throw it," Rodriguez said in February. "It's spring training. Doesn't hurt the numbers on the back of your baseball card."

Fast-forward two months to Wednesday night, and suddenly Rodriguez's slider was no longer a theoretical offering, but a legitimate one. He threw 16 in an 11-4 victory over the Tigers, only two of which ended up in play. The pitch featured good action down and in to right-handed hitters and gave the Tigers something else to ponder as E-Rod carried a no-hitter into the fifth before settling for six innings of two-hit, one-run ball. He struck out seven and walked three.

So, who gets the credit for this new pitch? Sale? Price? Pedro?

Try Dustin Pedroia.

It sounds crazy, but Rodriguez recounted a conversation the two had in the dugout over the weekend in Tampa.

"Hey, do you want to throw a really nasty breaking ball?" Pedroia asked.

"Yeah, bro," Rodriguez replied. "I've been battling to throw a breaking ball since I got here in the big leagues, since I was in the minor leagues."

Rodriguez laughed while relaying the exchange.

"He told me to throw the ball like this and hold it like that, and two days ago I started throwing it with my knee over there, and it's funny, because the first time I threw that kind of breaking ball was today and it was working," Rodriguez said. "So I've just got to say thanks to him."

This begs so many questions. Did Pedroia actually teach him the grip?

"The grip, he showed me the grip, and I started doing it two days ago, and I told him, bro, I'm going to throw that today, and you tell me how it is, and I think it worked pretty good," Rodriguez said.

How does Pedroia know how to throw a slider?

"I don't know," Rodriguez said. "He just told me that he was throwing that when he was in school. He just told me how to throw it and I've got to say thank you to him."

Is it a slider or a curveball?

"I don't know," Rodriguez said. "Whatever you want to call it. Just something that goes right where I wanted."

This is the Rodriguez the Red Sox have been waiting to see. They've won his past three starts, and even though his ERA remains an unsightly 5.88, that's seven runs lower than it stood after his first two starts, losses to Seattle and Oakland that saw him surrender 12 runs in eight innings.

"You guys know I'm hard on him, but everybody is because we know how good he can be," said manager Alex Cora. "It's good to see him compete at this level this way and we expect him to do that every time he goes out there, to go deep into games, and dominate."

Who knew? All it took to put him over the hump was an assist from an unlikely pitching guru.

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Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

The NHL has announced a return-to-play strategy. The NBA could announce its plan as soon as Thursday after a Board of Governors vote.

And then there's Major League Baseball.

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MLB's first proposal was quickly shot down by the Players' Association, which submitted its own plan over the weekend. That's also expected to be immediately dismissed. And as the days tick by, the hopes for a 2020 season get dimmer. While there's still time to salvage a season, the lack of productive dialogue between the league and the MLBPA is getting discouraging.

Speaking on NBC Sports Network's "Lunch Talk Live" on Monday afternoon, Pedro Martinez voiced his frustration with the stalemate.

"I'm hoping that both sides actually stop thinking about their own good and start thinking about the fans," Martinez said. "I think this is a perfect time to have their baseball teams out there and try to have the people forget a little bit about what's going on. It's not only the pandemic, it's everything that's going on. People need something to actually do and find a way to relax. I hope that the Players' Association and MLB realize how important it is to bring some sort of relief to people."

Martinez is spot-on with the sentiment that sports returning would be a welcome respite from the news right now. But getting players back on the field is proving to be complicated, especially as the sides navigate the financials of a shorter season without revenue from tickets.

"The economics is the dark part of baseball. The business part of baseball is dirty. It's dark," Martinez told Tirico. "And I hope that they take into consideration who pays our salaries, what the people do for us, how important the people are, and forget about or at least bend your arm a little bit to find a middle ground for the negotiations.

Let's not be selfish about it. Let's think about the fans, let's think about the families that are home that want to at least watch a baseball game and distract themselves from all the things that are going on.

Ongoing disputes over money are reflecting horribly on the sport, and cancelling the entire 2020 season could do irreperable harm to a sport that has seen its popularity ebb in recent years.

Fans can only hope that the sides take Pedro's advice, and find some common ground — and do it quickly. 

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

One of the most entertaining players ever to don a Boston Red Sox uniform was born 48 years ago today.

That would be Manny Ramirez, who celebrates his birthday on May 30. In honor of the special occasion, Major League Baseball tweeted an awesome video that includes some of Ramirez's greatest moments:

Watch below:

That cutoff of Johnny Damon's throw never gets old.

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Ramirez joined the Red Sox in 2001 after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Cleveland Indians. From there, he became a key contributor to two World Series titles (2004 and 2007) and furthered his legacy as one of the best right-handed hitters of all time.

He isn't done yet, either. Ramirez announced just a couple of months ago he is hoping to find a roster spot in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League. More "Manny Being Manny"? That sounds great to us.

We wish a very happy birthday to one of the greatest (and most interesting) players in Red Sox history.